83ºF

Graffiti artist struck by police car during pursuit dies

Delbert Rodriguez dies days after being struck by Miami police officer's car

photo

MIAMI – An aspiring graffiti artist who was struck by a Miami police officer's car early Friday morning has died.

Delbert Rodriguez, 21, died Monday, morgue records obtained by Local 10 News show.

Rodriguez had been in the intensive care unit at Jackson Memorial Hospital since Friday, when he was struck by a Miami police car while running from an officer.

After he was spotted tagging a building near Northwest Fifth Avenue and 24th Street, Rodriguez ran off, but as the detective's car turned the corner, Rodriguez jumped out from between two cars and was struck, police said.

Chief Manuel Orosa said in a statement that Rodriguez either fell or was attempting to hide spray cans under a nearby car. Because it was dark and Rodriguez was low to the ground, the officer didn't see him, Orosa said.

Sgt. Javier Ortiz, president of the Miami Fraternal Order of Police, released a statement Wednesday in which the police union offered its prayers to Rodriguez's family.

Ortiz also condemned a report in The Miami Herald that he went to the hospital "to blame Mr. Rodriguez for his actions and then offered his mother dinner." Ortiz said he did go to the hospital on behalf of Detective Michael Cadavid, who struck Rodriguez, where there was short discussion about the events that took place.

"However, I made it clear that wasn't why I was there," Ortiz wrote.

Ortiz said Cadavid wanted the family to know he was praying for Rodriguez, whose mother "was adamant that the police were to blame."

"I did my best to comfort her and prayed over her son," Ortiz said. "I did offer to bring food for her and Delbert's father since I am sure they didn't want to leave their son's bedside."

Ortiz went on to say that Cadavid was just doing his job at the time of the incident.

"It is unfortunate that this young man lost his life due to his poor decision to run from the police," Ortiz wrote.

Orosa said the car's on-board computer showed it was traveling less than 15 mph when he was struck.

"If Mr. Rodriguez was not committing a violation of criminal mischief and he didn't run from the police, this would have never happened in the first place," Ortiz told Local 10 in an exclusive interview Wednesday.

Ortiz said Cadavid feels terrible about what happened, but the officer was advised by his attorneys not to speak to Rodriguez's family.

The incident was being investigated.

Follow Local 10 News on Twitter @WPLGLocal10