In the heart of South Beach’s entertainment district, a woman was shot dead by a police officer after causing at least one crash and then knocking a cop to the ground with her car Sunday evening.
The incident happened amid a busy holiday weekend in Miami Beach, as people dined at sidewalk cafes and beachgoers walked off the sand. For hours, several blocks of Washington Avenue were roped off with yellow tape as police investigated.
Police Chief Daniel Oates said the incident started at about 6:15 p.m., when a woman driving a black BMW westbound on 12th Street hit a Mercedes with two men inside at Collins Avenue after running a red light. An officer who was nearby on foot because he was part of additional patrols for the weekend tried to get her to stop, but she accelerated and hit him, throwing him off his feet, Oates said.
Another officer then opened fire. The driver lost control and then struck a parked white SUV on the east corner of 12th Street and Washington Avenue.
Oates said “one or more rounds” hit the woman, who later died at Jackson Memorial Hospital.
Per Miami Beach Police department policy, Miami-Dade detectives are investigating the officer-involved shooting. Late Sunday, Miami-Dade Police said there was a passenger in the BMW who was being questioned.
Miami Beach police are investigating the collisions that occurred. The officer who was struck suffered lacerations to the body and loss of consciousness, according to Miami Beach Fire. He was in stable condition and alert late Sunday, Oates said.
Tourists having dinner said it all started with an initial crash on Ocean Drive, though police have not yet confirmed the first collision. Oates said they were investigating.
Shay Davis and Monique Teller, who were visiting from Philadelphia, said they were eating dinner on the Sugar Factory’s outdoor patio on Ocean Drive when they heard a loud boom. They described seeing a car ram into the back of a work truck that had stopped for traffic.
“I don’t know what she was trying to do, but she just left the scene,” Davis said.
Witnesses said the female driver backed up and tried to leave, despite pedestrians yelling at her to stop. Witnesses also said that cops later tried to get her out of the car.
Miguel Garcia, a tourist from Chile, said he was coming back from the beach when he saw the crash happen. Garcia said he and several others followed the female driver on foot as she drove away.
“I never thought I was going to see shots in this part of the city,” Garcia said, adding that the woman then lost control of the car and hit an additional vehicle, on the corner of 12th Street and Washington Avenue.
Garcia said that the woman was pulled out of the car — not breathing — and that there was blood everywhere.
Roads remained closed along Collins Avenue and Washington Avenue from 11th to 13th streets late Sunday. Visitors were being told it could be hours before they could get to their cars parked on the street.