By now there’s been quite a lot of media coverage about the fatal police shooting of 22-year old Raymond Herisse on Memorial Day in Miami Beach. But after 6 days of reporting, I noticed not one story had been done on just who Raymond was. There’s been plenty of coverage over the incident; how the City may cancel or at least modify the event in the future; over the controversy regarding alleged police destruction of witnesses’ cameras and even a story how Raymond may be linked to a robbery and shooting of a BP gas station. Lot’s of coverage, but nothing on the life of Raymond Herisse. So I decided to wake up at 6:45am on Saturday to drive up to Boynton Beach, the last known address for Raymond and see what I could find. I started by locating the BP gas station in Boynton Beach where there was a shooting in November (details here):
And was completely shocked to learn that Raymond had lived literally around the corner from the BP station on a quiet, safe suburban residential neighborhood on Northwest 7th Court:
As I drove around the neighborhood and talked with neighbors, I quickly learned that this was a very nice, welcoming community of mixed socio-economic and ethnic backgrounds consisting mostly of whites, latins and Haitians. When I found the house Raymond had been living in, it was obvious that it was one of the better cared-for homes on the block. The neighbor next door, Cathy Vivarttas, talked with me for awhile. She explained that Raymond had moved in to the house back in 2005 with his younger and older sisters and mother who was raising all three children by herself. Cathy explained that Raymond’s mother is Haitian, speaks very little English but works two full time jobs to “keep a house over their heads” and is an excellent neighbor. Cathy added that right after moving into the house, she and her three children were out in the yard landscaping and gardening and keep it up very well. Yes, there’s even a white picket fence as shown here:
When I asked Cathy to tell me about Raymond, she said she didn’t know too much except that Raymond had been friends with her son Stephen who was the same age and that Raymond used to come over to help Stephen with his GoPed (a scooter/skateboard). I tried talking with Raymond’s mother but she said she speaks “little English” and “come back when my daughter is here.” I noticed the mother’s display of pride as shown by this bumper sticker:
I did catch up with Raymond’s sister who returned home and explained to her I wanted to do a photo essay about Raymond to which she replied, “there’ll be time for that later but right now we’re grieving. We’ve got a lawyer looking into what happened.” I returned to Cathy and asked her to share with me anything about Raymond. She admitted that she knew her son and Raymond were “getting into trouble at times” but there wasn’t a lot she could do because of the hours she worked. She continued saying that her own son had died four years ago at the age of 18 in an illegal street drag race when his car crashed. She didn’t think Raymond “was a bad kid at all….after Stephen died, Raymond was the first person to visit my home and express his condolences. For a kid who was 18 at the time…that’s saying a lot.” She continued, “it’s kind of ironic….two single mom’s living right next to each other with sons the same age and both die too early in life.” Cathy began crying and I decided it was time to return to Miami.