MIAMI (WSVN) - A chaotic night in Miami Beach ended with a police officer in the hospital after, investigators said, he and a suspected purse snatcher were accidentally struck by a squad car during a pursuit.
The officer was responding to a robbery along the 2200 block of the Miami Beach Walk, near Collins Avenue, at around 6:30 p.m., Thursday.
Speaking with 7News on Friday, the victim, Jennifer Burtch, said she was walking south when a man ripped her cross-body bag from her and took off on a bicycle.
“He grabbed my purse, and I turned around, and in the moment, I didn’t know if I should even call the police or what to do,” she said.
Burtch said she chased after the thief and called 911.
Pictures of Burtch taken after the incident showed marks on her neck and forearm.
“Yeah, I have right here from where he snatched the purse,” she said as she showed her neck injury, “and then, on my arm, the force caused some bruising and a little abrasion here.”
Cellphone video recorded from an apartment balcony captured multiple police cruisers.
Detectives and other officers said they chased and caught up with the purse snatcher, struggled with him on the ground before an officer and the suspect were accidentally struck by the cruiser of another responding officer.
The officer was taken to Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami with a large law enforcement escort from several agencies. His injuries were not life-threatening.
The suspect, identified as 30-year-old LaJuan White, was transported to Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami Beach. He is expected to be OK.
When White is released, he will be taken to jail. He will face several charges, including robbery, resisting arrest and drug possession.
This isn’t White’s first run-in with authorities. He has a library of mugshots related to arrests in South Florida, with charges ranging from panhandling and drug possession to grand theft and robbery.
As for Burtch, she said she and her family have been coming to Miami Beach from Louisiana for years, and this is something that has never happened to her before.
“This is the first time that I’ve ever experienced anything like this,” she said.
Burtch has a word of advice for anyone planning to take a stroll on the Beach Walk.
“Be aware of the surroundings and be safe, and try to limit your distractions,” she said.
The injured officer has since been released from the hospital and is recovering at home.
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