On May 5, 23-year-old Ciarah Ramirez was driving in Midtown Miami with her husband and a friend when a speeding Ford Mustang T-boned their SUV, ejecting Ramirez.
She was pronounced dead at the scene, and her husband and friend were rushed to the hospital in critical condition. The Mustang was devoid of occupants by the time officers arrived to investigate.
After the crash, the Miami Police Department (MPD) urged the public to come forward with information about the hit-and-run driver. Spokesperson Kenia Fallat appeared on CBS Miami the next day and said investigators were hard at work finding Ramirez's killer.
"We're asking anyone with information to come forward, and we're also trying to see if we can recover some surveillance video from neighboring businesses that perhaps may have captured the incident from beginning to end," Fallat said. "These hit-and-run crashes are happening way too often. We're telling people [to] remain on the scene regardless of what's going on. The fact that the person failed to render aid or call for help is one of the biggest factors that there is here."
But there was another factor Fallat didn't mention: MPD's own officers might have played a role in the events leading up to the fatal crash. Last night, CBS Miami reported that MPD's internal affairs unit — which investigates cops accused of wrongdoing — was looking into whether officers had been chasing the Mustang before it slammed into Ramirez's SUV.
This morning, MPD spokesperson Orlando Rodriguez confirmed to New Times that six officers had been suspended as part of an ongoing investigation into the crash.
"As a result of an open and ongoing Internal Affairs investigation, 6 sworn members of the Miami Police Department, who were assigned to the Allapattah Problem Solving Team have been relieved of duty with pay and administratively reassigned as of Tuesday, May 12, 2020," Rodriguez wrote in an email.
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MPD did not immediately provide public records pertaining to the case, including GPS tracking data for the involved patrol cars and audio of the police department's radio frequency on the night of the crash.
Miami Police Chief Jorge Colina told CBS Miami "there is no video evidence" that a department vehicle was behind the Mustang in the moments before it crashed. But he said the department would investigate whether officers had previously been in pursuit of the car.
MPD policy says officers should only chase "fleeing violent felony offenders."
"If anybody violated our policy, we're going to hold those officers accountable," the chief told CBS Miami.