Homestead Police shot and killed a mentally ill man. His family calls it “an injustice”

The family of a man shot and killed by Homestead Police on Saturday morning is denouncing his death as an injustice, while the Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigates the shooting and the officers involved remain on administrative leave.

“He was ill, and he didn’t have guns. It was an injustice,” the man’s partner, Karen Jam, told the Miami Herald.

Jam told the Herald that Leandro Ledea Chong, 33, suffered from mental health issues and drug addiction. She said they started dating about a decade ago and married about six years ago. They had recently separated but stayed on good terms.

Fernando Morales, a Homestead Police spokesman, said Sunday that officers first visited the Ledea Chong residence — a one-story home located on the Sunrise Boulevard circle, east of the Ronald Reagan Turnpike — on Friday afternoon, “in reference to a disturbance.”

He said officers found Ledea Chong yelling at officers in the doorway on Friday. But they decided he didn’t pose a threat, so officers “disengaged and left to pursue other resources in attempting to get the subject some type of treatment,” Morales wrote in an email.

On Saturday, Homestead Police officers returned to the house — this time “in reference to several shots being fired,” Morales said.

When they got there, officers saw Ledea Chong “with some type of fanny pack around his neck with his hands inside the fanny pack throwing objects from inside the residence at the officers,” Morales said. “At some point the incident escalated to where Homestead Police Officers were forced to fire their weapons.”

Morales did not say whether or not Ledea Chong had a gun or fired it at the police.

“I can confirm that the subject is deceased and involved officers have been placed on Administrative Leave per policy,” he added. “The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is now the lead investigative agency for this incident.”

Gretl Plessinger, a spokeswoman for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE), confirmed the statewide agency is investigating the officer-involved shooting after the Homestead Police Department requested it.

“FDLE was contacted before 5 a.m. yesterday. Agents will be gathering evidence and conducting interviews over the next few days,” Plessinger wrote in an email Sunday.

Jam, Ledea Chong’s partner, said she and other relatives are looking forward to the final FDLE report describing what happened in the last minutes of his life. They will cross-reference that version with videos they have from security cameras, she said.

Jam and her son’s girlfriend, Luisa Delvals, created a GoFundme page after the shooting to cover the funeral costs and to seek justice for Ledea Chong, Jam said. They had raised about $1,000 by 3 p.m. Sunday.

In the page, they describe Ledea Chong as an “amazing stepfather, and an amazing husband.” They said he often donated money to causes close to his heart and “overall was a happy soul.”

Jam said Ledea Chong had been struggling with his diseases for a while, and had previously been arrested by police officers. She said officers had confiscated all of his guns.

Jam said Ledea Chong’s mother, Katia Chong, had been given a “rescue” number and told to call for help in case Ledea Chong “had another episode.” When he had an “episode” this weekend, his mother called the number and asked them to take her son to a rehab facility.

When officers arrived, they surrounded the house and pointed guns at Ledea Chong, who was standing by the door with a fanny pack filled with his keys, a rehab brochure and a screw driver, the GoFundMe page reads.

The GoFundMe page goes on to say officers “shot him outside of his house as he ran inside of fear to the bathroom to grab something to help the bleeding he ran to his room dragging his body and running and they shot him to death in his room leaving him deceased.”

It also says that relatives and loved ones of Ledea Chong have video evidence of his home that show the tracks of blood on the floor, and the bullets that show he “was fighting for his life” and how he bled out.

“Nobody deserves to die like that,” Jam told the Herald. “We have evidence they covered with bullets the house, the room, the bathroom, the patio, and him completely without any need.”

“There are other methods they could have used,” she added. “I understand that the police want to protect their lives but they were warned that he was a sick person. There are other methods. There are other things they could have done instead of killing him. There is pepper spray, Tasers, immobilizers.”

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