Crime

A serial thief got out of jail. The next thing he stole would be his last

Video captures moments after police cruiser crash on Coral Way

Video shows the moments after an allegedly stolen police cruiser slammed into an SUV carrying Atlanta Braves player Sean Rodriguez and his family in southwest Miami-Dade on Jan. 28, 2017.
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Video shows the moments after an allegedly stolen police cruiser slammed into an SUV carrying Atlanta Braves player Sean Rodriguez and his family in southwest Miami-Dade on Jan. 28, 2017.

Less than 24 hours after Vincent Foreman got out of jail, he stole a cop car and drove to his death.

Foreman, a 28-year-old homeless and mentally ill man, slid behind the driver’s seat of a marked police car on Saturday afternoon while the officer was investigating an unrelated call near Southwest 16th Street and 107th Avenue. He took off, speeding East on Southwest 24th Street.

At some point, Foreman lost control of the patrol car, swerved into oncoming traffic and glanced off a Honda Civic. He spun directly into the path of a Chevy Suburban, which T-boned him. The police car crumpled and burst into flames, sending worried neighbors running, hoses from their yard in tow.

As bystanders tried to douse the flames, the Suburban’s driver, Atlanta Braves infielder Sean Rodriguez, cared for the passengers of his car — his injured wife and children. All three were hospitalized in serious condition.

Giselle Rodriguez, 29, broke her femur and tibia and underwent wrist surgery, she tweeted Monday. The couple’s sons, 8-year-old Sean Rodriguez Jr. and 2-year-old Zikiel, were stable. One of the kids got stitches and a cast.

“We are so grateful to be alive!” she tweeted.

Foreman died in the car. His latest stint in jail, for two counts of felony petit theft and resisting arrest in September, ended Jan. 27, according to Miami-Dade County jail records. The most recent arrest documents indicate he was homeless, something his older sister Vanessa Flye confirmed. No one in their family had contact with Foreman in six years, she said.

“There was nothing evil or mean about my brother,” Flye, 30, said Friday, as she and her family drove from their hometown of Pensacola to identify and claim Foreman’s body.

He was diagnosed with Schizophrenia at a young age, and spent his early years in and out of juvenile detention for fighting, she said. It got to the point where whenever the family got a call that Foreman was in jail or prison (where he spent two years on an armed robbery charge, records show) they were relieved.

“We were actually thanking God knowing he had a roof over his head,” Flye said. “We love him dearly.”

She said she’s heartbroken at her brother’s death, but is “so thankful” the Rodriguez family is safe and sound. “I’m glad God blessed them with their lives,” she said.

Police aren’t releasing any information about how the patrol car was stolen, but Flye said she didn’t think her brother could or would have broken in or hotwired the car. She assumed the car was left running with the keys inside, which police would not confirm until their investigation is complete.

“If it was a Honda with keys inside, he would have got in there too,” Flye said. “He probably didn’t even know it was a cop car.”

Alex Harris: 305-376-5005, @harrisalexc

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