Suspect escapes after ‘oversight’ involving Pinecrest police cruisers

(WSVN) - When suspects are put in the back of a police car, you would expect them to stay there. But that wasn’t the case in one South Florida city. And the city is blaming the car.
7’s Brian Entin investigates.

Suspects are not supposed to be able to get out of police cars…

John Rivera, Police Benevolent Association: “That is what you expect.”

But that’s not what happened in Pinecrest earlier this month.

Judge: “You were arrested for a charge of escape.”

Jamie Martinez was picked up on a warrant for violating probation.

A Pinecrest officer was transporting him to Miami-Dade Police Headquarters in Doral when the handcuffed 31-year-old escaped.

Judge: “Mr. Martinez was able to lower the rear passenger side window and thrust his body out of the window and begin fleeing the patrol car.”

Other departments in the area responded and the Pinecrest officer chased the suspect, catching him a few blocks away.

John Rivera: “That is super dangerous to have someone who can get out of the car.”

Police vehicles are supposed to have their rear windows disabled — so suspects can’t lower them and climb out.

But 7News has learned the rear windows in two Pinecrest police cruisers were not disabled.

The city calls it an “oversight.”

The Miami-Dade Police Union president says it could have ended much worse.

John Rivera: “It could have been disastrous. There are a whole lot of things that could have happened to the bad guy. A whole lot of things that could have happened to the police officer.”

City leaders wouldn’t do an on camera interview, but a spokeswoman said: “The police department takes the safety of its officers and the public very seriously. When it was discovered that the window of a police utility vehicle was not disabled, every vehicle in the fleet was immediately inspected.”

The city says when they bought the cars they “were categorized as having a police package.”

But Ford says departments must specifically request to have the back windows disabled.

Because of the escape, the city says they’ve started a new verification procedure when they buy new police cruisers. And that will include checking to make sure the back windows are disabled.

And if you think there’s something 7News should investigate, give us a call or send an email.

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