Grieving mom jailed, accused of stalking Miami-Dade cop who killed her mentally ill son

Two summers ago, a Miami-Dade police officer issued a warning to Gamaly Hollis about the continuing calls to deal with her mentally ill son, who was prone to violent outbursts and brandishing knives and a BB gun around wary neighbors.

“If you have a problem with the way the police deal with your son, like you had the problem last time, don’t call us,” Officer Jaime Pino told Hollis in a discussion recorded on another officer’s body camera. “We’re not social workers. We’re police officers.”

Then, he added: “I’m telling you. If your son takes a BB gun or a real gun out on me, I’m gonna kill your son. So if you have a problem with that, don’t call us.”

Less than a year later, that same officer killed Hollis’ 21-year-old son Richard, shooting him six times during a confrontation in the family’s Kendale Lakes apartment.

In the shooting’s aftermath, a grief-stricken Gamaly Hollis took to the streets and social media, branding the officer as an “asesino” — killer or murderer in Spanish. She even confronted Pino at a crime scene. “You murderer,” she said. You murdered my child!” As a result, Hollis was arrested on charges of aggravated stalking, resisting arrest and trespassing.

Hollis’ attorneys on Thursday asked Miami-Dade Judge Cristina Rivera Correa to dismiss those charges, arguing they violate her First Amendment right to speak freely about a police officer she believes killed her son unnecessarily. After a contentious afternoon hearing, Correa set a Wednesday deadline for additional legal briefs.

Hollis already has served almost a year in jail after being convicted of violating a judge’s order to stay away from Pino, who would later be cleared of any wrongdoing in Hollis’ son’s death. She is scheduled to be released from jail on that conviction, a decision that the judge could make as early as Friday.

The mothers of other adult children killed by law enforcement have been vocal in their criticism of the actions of police. But, according to Hollis’ lawyers, she stands alone in having been charged with stalking — the charge was reduced to a misdemeanor, and the trespass charge was dismissed. The stalking offense that carries the possibility of Hollis spending almost almost a year in prison. The resisting arrest charge carries the same penalty.

“This Court must not allow the State Attorney’s Office to weaponize Florida’s stalking statute in this case,” one of Hollis’ attorneys, Assistant Public Defender Chandra Sim, wrote in a motion to dismiss the charges. “Allowing prosecution of cases such as the one at hand makes a mockery of the goals enshrined in our Constitution, the Judicial System, and our laws.”

The motion adds: “The government is choosing to prosecute Ms. Hollis in bad faith because she continues exercising her First Amendment right to expose its ongoing misconduct to the public.”

A history of police calls

When a neighbor at the Peppermill Apartments called 911 the evening of June 15, 2022, officers at the Miami-Dade Police Department’s Hammocks Division were well-acquainted with the address. They had been there several times.

Records from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement show that Richard Breed Hollis had been arrested twice previously – including charges of resisting arrest without violence, battery, battery on an elder and battery on a law enforcement officer. The latter three charges stemmed from an incident, on April 5, 2021, in which he reportedly pushed his 88-year-old neighbor to the ground.

Police had been called to the apartment twice — on Oct. 24, 2021 and Dec. 14, 2021 — following reports that Richard Hollis had overdosed on pills. “During that incident,” prosecutors wrote of the Dec. 14, 2021 encounter, “a struggle could be heard in the background…Dispatch advised that Richard Hollis had a mental condition and that he had taken 15 pills.”

On Aug. 10, 2021, Pino was among a handful of officers dispatched to the Hollis apartment following a neighbor’s call. Interviewed outside the home, Gamaly Hollis told officers her son might have a BB gun. Body camera footage from that encounter shows a group of clearly frustrated officers. At one point, Pino suggests that Hollis stop calling police for help when her son acts out, saying officers weren’t social workers.

He also gave her the blunt warning that if her son was armed when confronting police, “...I’m gonna kill your son. So if you have a problem with that, don’t call us.”

Almost a year later, a confrontation between Pino and Richard Hollis unfolded just as the officer had predicted.

On June 15, 2022, Gamaly Hollis later told the FDLE, her son had been “doing drugs…and had not slept.” Mother and son had argued because Gamaly Hollis had “hidden all the knives in the house, and Richard Hollis was looking for ‘his weapons’,” prosecutors wrote.

When Gamaly Hollis returned from work that evening, her son was eating dinner, with “two large kitchen knives on the table,” prosecutors wrote. The two argued, “he became aggressive, broke his cell phone, then pushed and struck her.”

“Richard Hollis told her that today was the day police were going to kill him,” prosecutors wrote.

When Officer Carle Blum arrived at the Hollis apartment at 8:23 that night, a colleague warned her over the radio not to enter alone. Pino, who had been to the home before, told Blum that Richard Hollis was a “violent 43” – police code for a person with mental illness. “Wait for other units,” Pino told her, according to a memo from the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office.

“His mother can be heard pleading with him in the background,” according to the memo prosecutors wrote explaining their decision not to press charges against Pino. Blum, the first officer on the scene, can be heard repeatedly asking Hollis to “open the door” to the apartment. Richard Hollis is heard on Blum’s body camera repeatedly telling her to “get the [expletive] out of here.”

“You either open the door, or I’m going to break the door in,” she yells.

Richard Hollis replies: “Just so the cameras can listen to this, I know that society is poisoning people with a lot of chemicals in the food, corn, wheat, soy.” He added: “I’m going to cut myself.”

‘A clear threat’

Pino arrives at the complex at 8:31. He is told that Hollis likely is wielding a knife. Within seconds, Pino begins kicking the apartment door in, according to body camera footage. “Drop the knife,” he is heard yelling. In camera footage, “a knife can be seen in the bottom of the video sticking out from behind the door, inches from Officer Pino,” prosecutors wrote.

“I’ll fight back,” Hollis yells. “I don’t mind [expletive] dying.” Prosecutors wrote that Hollis was “taking an aggressive stance, with knives in both hands.”

Within a minute of his arrival, Pino fired his taser at Hollis, once, then again, according to records. Only seconds later, prosecutors wrote, Pino shot Hollis, who crumpled to the ground, dropping one of the knives. The second knife was found under his body.

A June 16, 2022 autopsy said Hollis had been shot six times: twice on his upper right arm, on the right side of his abdomen, on his right thigh, his left thigh and the back of his hand. His cause of death was listed as gunshot wounds. Though police reports and the State Attorney’s Office’s memo stated that Hollis had been tased, the Medical Examiner’s report “contained no mention of any injury consistent with contact by or penetration of taser prongs,” prosecutors wrote.

Hollis’ autopsy found evidence of marijuana and antihistamines in his bloodstream.

Prosecutors declined to press charges against Pino, who had been the subject of an investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, in a “close-out memo” dated April 12, 2023. Such investigations are standard after shootings involving law enforcement officers.

Miami-Dade Police Office Jaime Pino during an appearance on a YouTube show that focuses on law enforcement tactics and guns. He was cleared of any wrong doing in a shooting last year of a mentally ill man in Kendale Lakes but that man’s mother launched a campaign accusing him of unnecessarily killer her son.
Miami-Dade Police Office Jaime Pino during an appearance on a YouTube show that focuses on law enforcement tactics and guns. He was cleared of any wrong doing in a shooting last year of a mentally ill man in Kendale Lakes but that man’s mother launched a campaign accusing him of unnecessarily killer her son.

Hollis, prosecutors wrote, could have been arrested that night for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, used against a law enforcement officer. Pino drew his gun only after he concluded his taser would have no effect, and after he was effectively cornered in the kitchen by Hollis.

“Richard Hollis’ statements and actions that night presented a clear threat to Officer Pino and Gamaly Hollis,” prosecutors wrote.

A grieving mother seeks answers

What happened after the shooting is subject to dispute. Police claim Gamaly Hollis visited the Hammocks substation repeatedly seeking to “confront” Pino. Hollis insists she visited the division to request copies of their investigation into her son’s death and to speak with him.

In testimony at a hearing on Pino’s request for a stalking injunction against Gamaly Hollis, Sgt. Stephanie Llamas testified that Hollis visited the division several times shortly after the shooting. Normally, Llamas testified, after being told Pino wasn’t present, “she would sit down in the lobby. She would kind of look around, and then leave.”

On one occasion, though, Llamas spoke with her in the parking lot. Hollis “told me that he murdered her son and she wanted to see him,” Llamas testified. “She was upset. She was crying a little bit.”

“You cannot just keep coming here,” Llamas said she told the mother. “Like it’s unhealthy. It’s not healthy for you and it’s not healthy for Officer Pino.”

Under the Miami-Dade Police Department’s standard operating procedures, Pino should have been sidelined while prosecutors and the FDLE investigated the shooting, Hollis’ attorneys argued in a court pleading. “The purpose of the rule is to ‘protect the community’s interest when employees may have exceeded the scope of their authority in their actions or in their use of force and to shield employees who have not exceeded the scope of their authority from possible confrontations with the community’.”

Officer becomes a trainer

Not only was Pino not restricted to desk duty while the shooting was under investigation — records show the department appointed him as a training officer.

Pino continued to patrol the neighborhood where Hollis lived, and Hollis encountered him on Aug. 22, 2022. Pino was working backup at a crime scene. It was Pino’s first day as a field training officer, and a junior officer was with him. Hollis stopped her car near him, and rolled down her window.

“She started to yell in Spanish that I’m a killer, that I’m an assassin, that I killed her son,” Pino testified at a hearing seeking a stay-away order against Hollis. Hollis was ordered to leave, which she did. But she returned later, after Pino had left.

Hollis testified at the hearing, without a lawyer, that she was driving to the cemetery to place flowers on her son’s grave when she saw Pino among a group of officers.

“I see the murderer of my son…” she testified. Hollis said she “decided to confront him and tell him [how she felt] as a mother.”

“You killed my son,” Hollis said to Pino repeatedly in Spanish, according to the body camera of Officer Michael J. Curran, who was present at the scene.

“Maybe if you did a better job, there wouldn’t be a problem,” Pino is captured saying in response.

On Dec. 15, 2022, Professional Compliance Bureau Lt. Matthew McGarey filed a discourtesy complaint against Pino over that exchange, citing Curran’s body camera footage as evidence of Pino’s misconduct.

The Miami-Dade police department agreed, according to a Jan. 10, 2023 professional compliance memo, which stated that “Officer Jamie Pino was observed being discourteous to Ms. Gamaly Hollis.”

Pino was “informally counseled,” the memo said.

After her arrest on stalking charges, Hollis shifted her mission from her neighborhood to social media. She shared photos she obtained from Pino’s accounts of him and his family. On Nov. 7, 2022, Pino was given a one-year injunction, ordering Hollis to stay away from him and cease posting his pictures on social media.

When asked by then-County Court Judge Luise Krieger-Martin why she posted photos of Pino, Hollis replied: “So the people know who was the murderer of my son.” When the judge asked why she included his family, she answered, “he was laughing [at] my face how he killed my son. He was making fun of me, how he killed my son.”

“He was my only child,” Hollis said at the hearing. After the shooting, she testified, she had to “clean all the blood [Pino] made in front of me.”

But on April 8, 2023, Hollis posted a picture of Pino’s home – with his marked Miami-Dade Police car – on her Facebook account, records show. The caption read, simply: “Bye bye.”

But it was Hollis who went away. She was convicted of violating the injunction on Aug. 1, 2023. She’s been in jail since.

This story was produced with financial support from the Esserman Family Foundation in partnership with Journalism Funding Partners. The Miami Herald maintains full editorial control of this work.