Homeland Security agents said they were in fear for their lives, standing directly in the path of an oncoming vehicle when they opened fire on a man in South Florida last May.
But now a surveillance video has surfaced that shows one agent purposely stepping into the street before opening fire as the vehicle sped past him.
The video also does not show the second agent who also shot at Michael Antonoff, a man they accuse of selling them cocaine in a sting operation.
Nevertheless, the federal agents charged him with felony assault on a law enforcement officer with a deadly weapon, a charge that was dropped by a prosecutor just over a week after the charge was filed, most likely after the prosecutor viewed the video.
However, Antonoff is still facing felony drug, fleeing and eluding and resisting arrest charges at the state level, which could land him in prison for 11 years.
Police say he sold undercover agents a kilo of cocaine, then fled in his vehicle when they moved in to arrest him. Antonoff claims he thought he was being robbed, which is why he fled.
He goes to trial in September after rejecting a plea deal that would have sent him to prison for three years.
“The SA’s [special agents] were directly in the path of Antonoff’s oncoming vehicle and feared for their lives,” Homeland Security Investigations Special Agent David Jansen wrote in an arrest report. “To avoid being struck by Antonoff’s vehicle, two SA’s discharged their firearms into Antonoff’s vehicle as they attempted to move from Antonoff’s path of travel.”
It is actually quite common for law enforcement officers to claim they were directly in the path of a fleeing vehicle to justify shooting at it, only for autopsy results to determine the driver was shot from the side of from behind or video evidence showing the cop purposely jumping on the hood of the car from the side.
However, the Department of Justice released a report this year listing shooting at moving vehicles as one of nine “specific prohibitions” regarding police and their firearms, unless, of course, the car is a potential threat to themselves or another person or if the occupants of the car are shooting at the officers.
But it does not seem the same federal government issuing these prohibitions is eager to prosecute police who violate these prohibitions.
Antonoff, 27, was struck four times after Homeland Security agents shot at him on May 19 in the parking lot of an El Dorado furniture store.
Had it not been for the video footage, he would still be facing federal charges of trying to assault them with a deadly weapon.
Homeland Security refused to comment about the case when the Palm Beach Post inquired, referring all questions to West Palm Beach police, who said the shooting is still “under investigation.”
But if they lied about that, how can we trust anything else they say about the incident?