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Aug. 31, 2011 — North Miami Beach

Residents called 911 to report that a man was in the street carrying a rifle, at one point threatening a dog.

Police arrived at 5:15 p.m. and ordered Ernest Vassell to put down the weapon. Authorities said that Vassell ignored their commands and raised the rifle.

An officer fired, killing him. Read more

His weapon turned out to be a toy gun.

Vassell's sister said that the 56-year-old was autistic. Relatives and friends said that while Vassell was mentally challenged, he was not violent and was afraid of police.

They said it was obvious to most people that Vassell had a disability.

This was the 89th police shooting in Florida in 2011.

Three days earlier, two officers shot one person in Deland .

Four days later, one officer shot one person in Tampa .

3 ways this case compares to others

  1. Vassell did not immediately comply with police instruction, a factor in nearly a quarter of shootings.
  2. Vassell was armed with a toy weapon. Only four other people were armed the same way.
  3. Vassell showed signs of mental instability. Almost a third of all shootings involved someone who appeared mentally unstable.

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