Video Shows Miami Cop Chasing Biker Who Died, Contradicting Police Account

Dade County Riderz / Instagram
Yoinis Cruz Peña, a 29-year-old motorcyclist, died after crashing on the Rickenbacker Causeway last weekend. His wife Yailen also suffered serious injuries. The bikers who were riding with Peña that day have insisted a Miami Police officer was chasing him when the crash occurred even though MPD said it had no record of any officer pursuing a motorcycle that day. The department's union president, Ed Lugo, even spent the weekend on Twitter refuting that claim and insulting the motorcyclists.

But the bikers have now released video showing the entire riding sequence that ended with Peña's fatal crash, and the clip clearly shows an MPD cruiser chasing Peña at high speeds across the causeway right up until the accident.

The video seems to directly contradict statements from both MPD and the union and might show a violation of the department's policy on high-speed chases. MPD did not immediately respond to requests for comment about the video.

"I decided to let you all see a better picture (video) of what happen[ed] last Sunday," the user running the Dade County Riderz account wrote online. "From the beginning the cop was waiting for the group to leave. [It's a] high speed chase... so fast the Biker taking the video could barely keep up."

According to a police statement, the crash occurred just after 3:30 p.m. on the off-ramp leading from the Rickenbacker to the southbound lanes of South Dixie Highway. In the first new video clip, the motorcyclists pass an MPD cruiser as they turn right onto the Rickenbacker. In the second clip, the MPD officer can be seen chasing a motorcyclist, who witnesses say was Peña.

The biker recording the footage says he's going more than 100 mph, but both Peña and the cop blow past the biker. At the end of the second clip, the riders turn a corner to see a bike overturned and realize Peña and his wife have been thrown off the overpass. The officer is nowhere to be seen at that point.
Chasing Peña might have violated MPD's policies: According to the department's rulebook, officers are instructed to discontinue a chase if the suspect committed only a "traffic infraction, misdemeanor, or nonviolent felony" or "when there is a clear and unreasonable danger to the officer and/or other citizens." This includes "when speeds dangerously exceed the normal flow of traffic."

This past Friday, MPD denied knowing about any motorcycle chases after reporters questioned whether an officer was pursuing Peña before he died.

"At this time, the Miami Police Department does not have knowledge or information of any Miami Police officer or any other agency in pursuit of the said motorcycle, or any other motorcycle, in the area at the time of the crash," the department said in a statement.

Miami's police union was blunter. Speaking to the Miami Herald, Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 20 President Ed Lugo denied any kind of chase occurred and instead attacked the bikers.

"There is no evidence that they were chased," Lugo said. "On the contrary, Miami police officers were responding code 3 to render first aid. Instead of the deceased motorcycle 'family' rendering first aid to him, they were too busy taking cell phone videos of his lifeless body next to a woman fighting for her life."

Lugo then tweeted multiple insults directly at one of the bikers online.
Police pursuits are extremely dangerous, and departments have discouraged officers from following suspects at high speeds unless a chase is absolutely necessary. According to a 2015 USA Today investigation, more than 5,000 innocent bystanders have been killed in police crashes since 1979. In 2015, undercover Miami Police officers initiated a high-speed chase that ended in a gruesome crash: A 21-year-old driver died — and his car careened into an innocent, 44-year-old bystander who later died after his legs were severed. The family of the bystander, Javier Muñoz, has sued MPD.

Last weekend, New Times obtained footage of a Miami Beach Police officer following a group of dirt-bike and ATV riders across the Julia Tuttle Causeway. The officer was filmed using his megaphone to tell the riders he hoped they "all fucking crash and die."

Update: After this story was published, the Miami Fraternal Order of Police once again denied that the chase occurred.

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Jerry Iannelli is a former staff writer for Miami New Times from 2015 to March 2020. He graduated with honors from Temple University. He then earned a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University.

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