Law enforcement

Police union: Officers justified in barrage after car chase in Miami-Dade


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Approximate timeline of events

4:30 a.m., 2700 W. Flagler St.: Adrian Montesano robs a Walgreens at gunpoint then drives off in his pickup truck.

2200 NW 29th Ave.: Site of Montesano's ditched pickup truck.

5 a.m., 2260 NW 27th Ave.: Montesano shoots a Miami-Dade police officer in the stomach who tries to approach him. Montesano takes off with the officer's gun and patrol car.

6:15 a.m., 600 E. 10th Ave., Hialeah: Police spot Montesano and another person in a blue Volvo. A pursuit ensues.

6:30 a.m., 2700 NW 65th St.: The Volvo crashes, wedged between a tree and a utility pole. Police exchange gunfire with the people in the car. Two officers are shot in the arms and several others suffer minor injuries. Montesano and the other person in the car are shot dead.

The second man killed by police early Tuesday after a wild car chase — and the wounding of a Miami-Dade patrol officer — has been identified as a Corsini Valdes, 50.

Authorities say Valdes was a passenger in a Volvo driven by Adrian Montesano, 27, who early Tuesday robbed a Walgreens in Flagami, ditched his pickup truck and shot a Miami-Dade officer.

Cops say Montesano later stole a family member’s Volvo and picked up Valdes. He then led officers on a high-speed chase before crashing into a light pole in North Miami-Dade. More than 20 police officers opened fire, riddling the car with hundreds of rounds and killing both men inside.

John Rivera, the head of Miami-Dade’s police union, said officers were justified in shooting because Montesano’s violent spree endangered them and the community. He said Montesano was also firing at officers, from the car window during the chase.

It is unknown if Montesano, or Valdes, fired at cops after the crash. Television news showed officers approaching the car, then backing away in a hurry before the firing began.

Two officers were grazed during the gunfire, although it is unknown if they were hit by Montesano or friendly fire. Three others suffered minor injuries.

“He posed a great threat to the community, to law enforcement, even to his own family from which he stole the car,” Rivera said. “No one in Miami-Dade County was safe that morning.”

Under Florida law, police can lawfully shoot a fleeing felon if he poses a threat to the community.

As for Valdes, he has a rap sheet that includes more than 50 arrests since 1981. Like Montesano, he apparently also battled a drug problem. According to court records, most of his arrests revolved around possession of crack cocaine.

But he had also been implicated in burglaries and robberies. In October, detectives arrested Valdes after he allegedly asked a man in North Miami-Dade for a cigarette, then held him a knife point before beating and trying to rob him.

The State Attorney’s Office, however, declined to prosecute after detectives spent three days driving the neighborhood looking for the the victim, Juan Melendez, to no avail. Prosecutors also said Melendez’s credibility was shaky. The reason: Valdes told cops that he and a pal ran a prostitution operation and that Melendez had been a john, who he had accosted only because he had refused to pay for his liaison with a hooker named Pinky.

Elsa Innmorato, who said she was Valdes’ wife of 15 years, was “shocked” by the news of his death.

“I have know idea how he got involved in that,” said Innmorato. “He's not that stupid to do something like that.”

Though they had been separated for about two months, she said she had spoken to him only a couple of days ago.

Innmorato said she did not know Montesano, but had heard through a friend that Valdes may have begun associating with him.

“I think he just got in the car and didn't think anything of it,” she said.

She described Valdes as a loving man, who recently got his commercial fishing license and worked on boats. “He was a simple guy,” she said of the man who was like a father to her 15-year-old son from a previous relationship. “He didn't care about money.”

Authorities say Montesano, an air-conditioning repairman with a crushing drug addiction, tried to rob a Walgreens in Little Havana early Tuesday.

According to a police report released Wednesday, Montesano drove his truck into the parking lot and kept parking in several spaces. Then, he got out and pointed his gun at an employee cleaning the parking lot.

Montesano pushed the employee at gunpoint into the Walgreens, demanding money from the register. When that employee managed to slip away, Montensano grabbed another victim.

A surveillance video image, released by Miami’s police union, shows Montesano with the gun to the terrified woman’s head. He left the store, without any money, but not before firing one shot without hitting anyone.

Montesano eventually drove off as a security guard fired his weapon at the escaping truck.

He apparently ditched his pickup truck about two miles north. About 5 a.m. on Tuesday, Miami-Dade Officer Saul Rodriguez tried arresting Montesano, who shot the officer in the stomach.

The man stole the officer’s gun and sped off in his marked patrol car, police said. Rodriguez is at Jackson Memorial Hospital recovering after emergency surgery.

Read more Miami-Dade stories from the Miami Herald

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