Man Shot Near Plane Did Not Yell About a Bomb, Witnesses Say

Man Shot Near Plane Did Not Yell About a Bomb, Witnesses Say

US Federal Air Marshals shot to death Rigoberto Alpizar, 44, a Florida resident and employee of a local Home Depot on a runway at Miami-Dade Airport this past Wednesday, December 7, 2005.  Alpizar had no criminal record and may have been suffering a panic attack or other symptom of his bipolar disorder when he ran off of his plane and onto the runway.

Miami-Dade police were quick to make official statements saying that many people heard the man yelling that he had a bomb.  Alpizar ran off the plane clutching his bag.  The police agency’s chief of investigations also made an official statement and insisted that Alpizar was yelling that he had a bomb.  No police officers besides the two Marshals were on the plane, however.

Witnesses interviewed on the plane contradicted the police statements to the media.  Several witnesses sitting both in the front and the rear of the plane said that Alpizar did indeed run down the plane, but that he was quiet and did not say one word about anything, let alone scream that he had a bomb.

The Air Marshals, riding on the flight from Ecuador to Miami, chased Alpizar off of the plane and onto the tarmac.  They claim that Alpizar refused to stop, said he had a bomb, and then reached into his bag.  The officers fired four to six bullets, instantly killing the man.

Alpizar’s wife, also on the flight, followed after her husband as he ran off the plane.  She was shouting that her husband needed his medicine, that he was sick, and that he needed to get off of the plane.  Passengers restrained her from following her husband off the plane.

Alpizar’s relatives and many officials in the country are upset at what they see as a complete and utter failure of the system set up to protect Americans against air piracy or other airline related terror.  Alpizar did not make any terrorist threats, did not have a bomb, or a gun, or anything resembling those items, and, according to witnesses onboard, did not make any statements or yell anything about a bomb.

Carlos Alpizar, Rigoberto’s brother, is upset over the incident and recently said in a phone interview from Costa Rica that the marshals should have used non-deadly force, especially in such an obvious case where nobody’s life was in danger.

Police and other officials are investigating Air Marshal security, safety, training, and how the two particular marshals reacted to the perceived threat.  As the case unfolds it becomes clear that some amount of negligence may have resulted in the man’s death.  Lawsuits are expected to be filed against the marshals, and other agencies, in order to ensure that this type of thing does not happen again.

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