Florida man fleeing police killed by hit-and-run driver

Tampa Police Department

TAMPA, Fla. — A Florida man attempting to flee a police officer was killed in a hit-and-run crash early Friday when he darted onto a busy Tampa street, authorities said.

Frank E. Rodriguez, 29, of Tampa, died after he was struck by a vehicle in the 4000 block of West Hillsborough Avenue at approximately 2:20 a.m. EDT, the Tampa Bay Times reported.

According to a news release from the Tampa Police Department, officers responded to the area in a parking lot after receiving a report of a domestic dispute.

When an officer attempted to question Rodriguez, the man refused to obey commands and attempted to reenter the vehicle where a female believed to be the victim was sitting, police said.

In bodycam footage released by Tampa police, the officer pushed Rodriguez back toward the vehicle and told him “You’re not free to go.” Rodriguez attempted to leave the area, ignoring the officer’s commands to stop, WTVT reported. He allegedly yelled obscenities at the officer, who answered with an obscenity and threatened to use a stun gun on the suspect.

As Rodriguez ran toward the highway, the officer fired the stun gun, according to the Times. The suspect fell to the ground with his legs in the bicycle lane and his torso on the right lane of eastbound Hillsborough Avenue, the newspaper reported.

Immediately after hitting the ground, Rodriguez was struck by a four-door sedan traveling eastbound that continued down the highway, according to the newspaper.

Rodriguez was pronounced dead at the scene, the Tampa police said in its news release.

“This is classified as an in-custody death due to the fact that the officer was attempting to make an arrest when the suspect was hit by a car,” police said in a statement.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement will lead the investigation of Rodriguez’s death, while the Tampa Police Department will conduct an internal investigation to determine whether the office followed proper procedures, the Times reported.

The officer, a six-month veteran of the Tampa Police Department with previous law enforcement experience, was placed on administrative leave, according to the newspaper.

A spokesperson for the department was asked if there were specific policies in place when a stun gun was used to stop a fleeing suspect.

“While no policy or guideline can anticipate every situation that sworn personnel might face, prior to deployment of an ECD (electronic control device), sworn personnel must take into consideration environmental factors that could contribute to serious injury,” the spokesperson told the Times.

Police said they were searching for the vehicle that struck Rodriguez, WTVT reported.

An investigation is ongoing.

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