Ernest Vassell, 56, was shot and killed by North Miami police on Wednesday, family members said. Police said the man was carrying a rifle, which was later determined to be a toy.
North Miami Beach police have launched an investigation after an officer shot and killed a man who was prowling through a neighborhood carrying a toy gun.
Police said they shouted orders at Vassell – which neighbors heard – but when he turned toward the cops, an officer shot him.
Vassell was flown to Jackson Memorial Hospital, where he later died.
Meanwhile, cops discovered that the gun was a realistic-looking fake.
Family members told CBS 4 that Vassell, 56, was mentally disabled from a fall he suffered as a child.
His sisters said he didn’t own a toy gun and had never been violent before.
“They murdered him in cold blood for a toy gun!” Vassell’s older sister Claire Harding told the station. “That’s no reason for you to kill somebody!”
North Miami police maintained that the gun appeared to be real.
The department followed standard procedure and placed the officer who pulled the trigger on paid leave while they investigated the shooting, police spokeswoman Maj. Kathy Katerman told the Miami Herald.
The officer was not identified.
Harding said her family is waiting for answers.
“They should train these police officers better,” she told CBS 4. “This is ridiculous, they just go around killing people for nothing.”