The Magic City Casino looked more like the Wild West when a gambler who had been drinking was shot by a cop after refusing to leave, throwing money at the officer and wrestling him to the ground, then cutting his face.
The officer, who received stitches, was released from the hospital Thursday morning. The gambler — who hasn’t been named — was at the Ryder Trauma Center at Jackson Memorial Hospital undergoing surgery.
“He was fighting the officer. He was hitting the officer. They were on the floor. Then I heard someone yell knife and a shot went off,” said George Davila, who witnessed part of the tussle and spoke with Miami Herald news partner CBS4. Davila said the man was visibly intoxicated.
According to police and witnesses, it was about 12:30 a.m. Thursday when employees at Magic City demanded that a man who had become “belligerent” leave the casino. When he refused, security summoned an off-duty Miami police officer dressed in full uniform.
Just outside the gate entrance to the poker floor, the cop and the patron began to quarrel. At one point, police said, the man tossed a wad of bills at the officer. Then they grabbed each other and tumbled to the floor.
After the officer was cut — the instrument used hasn’t been identified — he fired at the man, striking him. Security helped, witnesses said, and some customers ducked and fled. Both men were taken to the hospital, where the suspect remains.
By 10 a.m. Thursday, police hadn’t publicly named the suspect, the officer, or filed any charges. The casino is in the city’s Flagler district at 450 NW 37th Ave.
The man who was shot “was being belligerent and had to leave,” said Miami police Detective Frederica Burden. “So the officer tried to remove him.”
Miami police union President Javier Ortiz said the officer fired his weapon “to protect himself as well as to protect the public.”
Isadore Havenick, vice president of political affairs at Magic City, said the casino will continue to have uniformed officers in place during all working hours.
“We’re just happy that the officer is OK,” said Havenick.