MIAMI BEACH, FLA. (WSVN) - A woman has died after, police said, she ran over a police officer near a busy Miami Beach intersection and was then shot by another officer, Sunday evening.
Crime scene investigators responded to the chaotic scene in the area of 12th Street and Washington Avenue, right in front of the Miami Beach Police Department headquarters.
According to investigators, the woman, identified as 22-year-old Cariann Hithon, was behind the wheel of a black BMW when she ran a red light. “Why the BMW was traveling at some rate of speed through a red light, we don’t have an answer to that question right now,” said Miami Beach Police Chief Daniel Oates.
Witness Michael Davis said the driver was fleeing the scene of an accident. “She rear-ended it, and after she rear-ended it, she drove off,” he said.
Davis said the driver hesitated but then changed her mind. “She actually drove off again and ran over a police officer, and after that, shots were fired,” he said.
“At that point, shots were fired by another Miami Beach Police officer, struck the car and the female driver of the car,” said Oates.
Cellphone video captured the moment that, witnesses said, the woman accelerated and ran over Officer David Cajuso. Moments later, gunshots can be heard in the background.
“So everyone is like, ‘Oh my God! Oh my God!’ And people started running after her car,” said witness Miguel Garcia. “Like she wanted to escape no matter what.”
Moments later, Garcia said, gunshots could be heard in the background. “It was like, ‘Pow! Pow! Pow!” he said.
One woman who asked not to be identified or show her face on camera said she heard the terrifying ordeal escalate in seconds. “I heard five gunshots, and I saw the pigeons all flying away, and then a crash,” she said.
Police later confirmed these witness accounts. However, Miami-Dade Police said there was a passenger in the car, whom detectives questioned. He was later released.
Paramedics transported the Cajuso to Jackson Memorial Hospital in stable condition. Officials said the law enforcer had lost consciousness and suffered scrapes. He was released from JMH Monday morning.
Officials said the woman was also transported to JMH after she received medical attention at the scene. “They were doing CPR,” said Davis.
Police said she later died from her injuries.
Hithon’s father said the two of them had high hopes for her future. “We had just had a conversation recently about the social ills of our society, you know, and how she was gonna be a lawyer, an attorney,” he said. “And I thought that she was gonna do great things for our society and or our culture, because she recognized and understood that there were so many social ills that we need to rectify.”
7News has learned that a second officer who was on patrol was the one who opened fire and struck the driver.
Davis said he is hopeful the officer is all right. “I asked him if he was OK, and he said he was OK, but it didn’t appear that way,” he said. “He wasn’t able to stand up or anything like that, but he was responsive.”
Police shut down Washington and Collins avenues, between 11th and 13th streets, while they investigated. The roads have since reopened.
Miami-Dade Police is now investigating the officer-involved shooting. Miami Beach Police will still be conducting an investigation into the original traffic crash.
The officer who opened fire has been placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.
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