A 22-year-old Black woman was fatally shot by Miami Beach police on Sunday after she reportedly drove into a police officer, sending him flying into the air and then onto the pavement.
Cariann Denise Hithon—a Temple University honor student and mentor who was visiting South Beach to celebrate her birthday—was intoxicated when she drove her car into Officer David Cajuso near Ocean Drive, police told the Miami New Times. Police say Hithon was seen “driving erratically” at 6:15 p.m. before crashing into a car at 12th Street and Ocean Drive.
She then reportedly sped though a red light, hit another car on Lincoln Road, and continued to drive before hitting Cajuso. That’s when cops say another officer was “forced” to shoot Hithon as a cautionary measure. A witness told CBS Miami that the officer shot “five or six” bullets at Hithon’s car, killing her.
As the New Times notes, in 2011, the Miami Beach Police Department implemented a ban prohibiting cops from shooting at moving vehicles following the fatal shooting of Raymond Herisse, but Police Chief Dan Oates revised that ban, allowing cops to shoot at moving vehicles if they were moving toward a crowd. While the shooting is still under investigation, Oates’ loophole may have played a role in Hithon’s death.
“It is unfortunate that yesterday’s events ended in the loss of life, yet it is an officer’s duty to ensure the safety of the public under the imminent threat of harm from an individual,” Miami Beach Fraternal Order of Police President Bobby Jenkins said in a statement on Monday. “That being said, we cannot dismiss the fact that an officer was hit with deadly force by a vehicle that was driving recklessly and fleeing from the scene of an accident. We welcome the independent investigation being conducted by the Miami-Dade Police Department and are confident that our officer’s actions were justified, warranted, and appropriate given the circumstances at hand.”
According to Oates, Cajuso’s reason for shooting is still under investigation.
This story is developing.