The SWAT team snakes behind a one-story pink and yellow house an hour before dawn breaks over a silent working-class block in Hallandale Beach. As the heavily armed cops in black military gear pour into the small backyard, Tank, a 15-year-old pit bull, rises from the concrete ground, straining at his metal chain. One cop aims and shoots the dog, killing it. Another officer smashes open the back door, then hurls in a flash grenade. Officer Michael McKenzie, a burly cop covered in bulletproof gear and armed with an automatic shotgun, bursts into a narrow kitchen.
McKenzie is suddenly face to face with the man he’d come looking for: Howard Bowe Jr., a bearded 34-year-old with a chubby face and long dreads, wearing only a T-shirt and boxers. McKenzie screams at Bowe to get down.
Seconds later, he shoots him twice in the stomach.
In the next apartment, Corneesa Bowe, Howard’s sister, hears her brother scream. “Why did y’all shoot me?” he yells.
Howard’s 16-year-old son freezes in bed on the other side of the house. Suddenly the door is kicked open, and three SWAT-gear-clad officers storm into his room. “Don’t move!” one cop shouts, grabbing hold of the teenager and pulling him out of the bed. “What’s going on?” Howard III asks.
Twenty minutes later, from the back of a police van, Howard III watches his father, still conscious and with a dazed look in his eyes, rolled out of the house on a stretcher. “Why did y’all shoot me?” his father says again, this time weakly.
Within hours, Bowe would fall into a coma. Ten days later, he’d be dead.