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Man left paralyzed following police shooting to be arraigned; attorneys demand all charges be dropped

By Carolina Borges and Dannielle Garcia

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    MIAMI (WSVN) — The attorneys of Donald Armstrong, a man who was left paralyzed after a police confrontation during a mental health episode, are set to hold a news conference after his arraignment in Miami.

The 47-year-old Miami man now faces charges of aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer and resisting arrest without violence. His attorneys, Ben Crump and Larry Handfield, and family members spoke at a news conference following Armstrong’s arraignment to demand all charges to be dropped.

The civil rights attorneys have been hired to represent Armstrong after an encounter with Miami Police on March 7 at Northwest 58th Street and Seventh Court, where he was tased twice and shot six times. The incident has since led to outrage and calls for justice.

His family spoke out during a press conference on Tuesday.

“Please pray for him,” said Denise Armstrong, Donald’s mother. “Do that for me.”

Armstrong, who was experiencing a mental health episode at the time of the police response, was filmed by bystanders during the confrontation. Video evidence showed Armstrong at the entrance of the home, allegedly holding a sharp object. In that same video, Armstrong lifts his shirt to prove he was unarmed before being tased and shot by officers.

Her son is now experiencing some paralysis. On top of that, he is being held in the jail’s medical ward.

While Denise couldn’t get through many other words, her attorneys did.

Armstrong’s legal team said that the video clearly shows excessive force being used as several shots were fired even after he had already fallen to the ground.

“It is shocking, it’s deplorable, it’s horrific,” Crump said. “It is what you would teach officers if you wanted to show them what not to do.”

“This was a 911 call for a mental health issue, crisis, but instead, he received six bullets that could’ve taken his life,” Handfield said.

One day after the shooting, the family’s pastor, the Rev. Dr. Gaston E. Smith, spoke out about the incident.

“I do know that he was dealing with some emotional, perhaps mental concerns, that his mother was concerned about,” he said in an interview with 7News on March 8. “She reached out for help. She did not reach out for her son to be shot multiple times.”

Crump continued to question the officer’s respond during the incident.

“if it was really a dangerous situation where all those officers felt their lives were in danger, then they should have had everybody shoot,” he said. “But the other officers didn’t shoot because they knew that it wasn’t a dangerous situation to warrant that use of deadly force.”

Miami Police Chief Manny Morales released a statement following the shooting, saying in part, “I pledge to ensure that our department does better in addressing calls involving mental and behavioral issues.”

Now, Armstrong’s family want those charges of aggregated assault to be dropped and that he return back home to recover from his injuries. His attorneys are also not ruling out a potential lawsuit.

“Were going to look at exploring every possible legal redress to this injustice,” Crump said.

7News reached out to Miami Police for comment. They responded that the case is being investigated by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and Internal Affairs.

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