Inclusion Daily Express Logo

International Disability Rights News Service
Click here for today's headlines & home page

Keeping advocates informed, inspired and connected since 1999.
Click here for daily or weekly delivery . . . OR
Try Inclusion Daily Express for ten days FREE . . .

Investigation Finds Air Marshals Were Justified In Shooting Alpizar
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
May 26, 2006

MIAMI, FLORIDA--A state investigation has determined that two federal air marshals acted appropriately last December 7 when they shot and killed Rigoberto Alpizar at Miami International Airport.

The 46-page report, issued May 23 by Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle, also noted that 44-year-old Alpizar had acted irrationally that day, likely because he had not taken enough of the medication Lithium that he needed to control his bipolar disorder.

The report cited Alpizar's wife of 20 years, Anne Buechner, saying that her husband had told her earlier that day that he did not feel well. She also said he had difficulty making simple decisions, and seemed nervous when they boarded American Airlines Flight 924 bound for their home in Orlando. She noted that her husband had been holding his backpack to his chest because her fanny pack had been stolen with her passport and other valuables when they were in Peru.

After he was seated, Alpizar suddenly stood up, grabbed his backpack from underneath the seat in front of him, and ran toward the front of the plane. Several passengers and flight personnel told investigators they heard Alpizar say either that he had a bomb or that there was a bomb on board as he ran out the exit and up the terminal jetway toward the airport.

His wife followed about 15 rows behind him, saying "He's sick", "Let me calm him down", "He's bipolar. He needs his medication!"

The undercover officers followed Alpizar onto the jetway, told him that they were police officers and ordered him to get down on the floor. Alpizar instead turned around and started walking back down the jetway calling for his wife, who was standing behind the officers. According to some statements, Alpizar told the officers that he was going to blow up a bomb as he reached inside his backpack. He then told the officers to "Go ahead and shoot me."

The officers had backed up nearly to the door of the plane before firing their .357-caliber semiautomatic handguns a total of nine times, striking Alpizar in the torso four times.

He was declared dead at the scene.

No bomb or detonator was found.

The report said that the undercover Homeland Security officers "demonstrated remarkable restraint" in what was the first shooting by air marshals since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

"The shooting death of Mr. Alpizar, while tragic, is legally justified in light of the surrounding circumstances presented to the air marshals," the report concluded, noting that the entire exchange in the jetway took between 30 and 60 seconds.

The officers, who were not named in the report for security reasons, have been on leave pending the outcome of the investigation.

"Police Shooting Closeout Memo" (Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office)
[Editor's note: Some of the images in the above report may be disturbing to some readers. -- Dave]
"September 11, 2001 and Beyond: The Impact of the Terror Attacks on People With Disabilities" (Inclusion Daily Express Archives)

Copyright © 2006 Inonit Publishing
Please do not reprint, forward, or post without permission.

Click here for top of this page

Purchase this story for your website or newsletter . . .

Here's what subscribers say about Inclusion Daily Express. . .

Keeping advocates informed, inspired and connected since 1999.
Click here for daily or weekly delivery . . . OR
Try Inclusion Daily Express for ten days FREE . . .

Get your news here!

Inclusion Daily Express
3231 W. Boone Ave., # 711
Spokane, Washington 99201 USA
Phone: 509-326-5811
Copyright © 2006 Inonit Publishing