Video circulating on social media shows the chaotic moment a Miami police officer fatally shot 22-year-old Cariann Denise Hithon, after she drove her vehicle into a crowd and ran over a cop in South Beach on Sunday.
Witnesses say that the driver, a Temple University student who was studying political science and philosophy, had repeatedly rear-ended cars prior to the fatal shooting. According to police, Hithon ran a red light and was traveling “at some rate of speed.”
A video captured by a bystander and shared on Instagram shows that the front passenger side of Hilton’s vehicle had already sustained damage when she stopped near a crowd.
As pedestrians and police officers surround her vehicle, an on-looker warns them to “get out the way just in case she drives off.” After a passenger exits the vehicle, someone is heard exclaiming “that’s the problem, they drunk!”
Moments later, someone warns “get back!”
Hithon is seen driving away after a police officer walks toward her vehicle. She then struck someone with her vehicle who was later identified to be police officer Dave Cajuso. Another officer shot multiple times into the driver’s side of Hithon’s black BMW.
The BMW then immediately crashed into parked cars along the side of the road.
Hithon was taken to a hospital Sunday night, where she later died. The officer suffered a head injury but is in stable condition.
Reports indicate that Hithon was in the tourist destination to celebrate her birthday, and she and an unnamed passenger may have been drinking heavily before the incident.
Miami-Dade County police are investigating the circumstances leading to the shooting. Bobby Jenkins, a police union president, released a statement defending the officer who fired the fatal shots.
Addressing the Miami New Times, Jenkins stated “"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. 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.”
Hithon, who transferred to Temple from Hampton University, was a member of Hampton’s honors college and participated in Sister-to-Sister, a mentorship program for empowering women.
Hithon’s father, Cary Hithon, told NBC Philadelphia “It’s hard to express the amount of pain and distress you feel.” He also questioned why she fled the scene. “That kind of activity is not rational. I can’t explain why she wouldn’t have listened to commands.”