P.B.A. Head Expects Thorough Probe Of Fatal Hialeah Police-Involved Accident
South Florida Crime
MIAMI (CBS4) – The president of the Miami-Dade Police Benevolent Association says he expects a thorough probe of a police-involved accident in Hialeah on Friday night that sent three people to the hospital killed a 21-year-old woman.
A family spokesperson confirmed to CBS4’s Silva Harapetian that Andrea Castillo was declared brain dead on Sunday, two days after the SUV she was riding in collided with an unmarked police cruiser. Castillo body is still on life support in order to preserve her organs for donation.
Castillo is the daughter of Susie Castillo, who was recently elected to the Miami-Dade School Board and who will be sworn in next month.
Castillo was hospitalized along with her boyfriend Marco Barrios, who police say was driving his SUV when it was broadsided on East 49th Street while he was driving northbound on East Ninth Court at 9:45 p.m. on Friday.
Investigators want to know if speed was a factor and if Barrios had come to a complete stop at the stop sign at the intersection of East 49th St. and East Ninth Court.
Police say Raul Somarriba, a member of the city’s crime suppression team, was driving eastbound on East 49th Street in an unmarked car and was on duty.
He was taken to Jackson Memorial Hospital and was left with a fractured leg, arm and head injuries. Police say his condition has stabilized.
“You have to do a complete investigation,” said John Rivera, the President of the Miami-Dade Police Benevolent Association that represents the officer.
“I think the community demands it and I think it’s the safest thing to do. It seems to me that with what limited information that I have that it was an unfortunate accident.”
The Miami-Dade P.B.A. represents 6,500 officers in the Miami-Dade Police Department and in 24 of the county’s 32 cities, said Rivera, who has been President of the P.B.A. for nearly 20 years.
“Obviously we have to look at all of the factors not only from the police officer’s side but from the civilians’ wide, from weather conditions to road conditions to traffic signals to whether the officer was responding to a call or not,” Rivera told D’Oench. “All police crashes require more investigations than normal accidents. If you do too quick an investigation, there is criticism that there is a whitewash. So you are better off doing the investigation even if it takes a bit longer so the accusation or perception that it is done quickly is never there.”
Barrios’ family asked Jackson Memorial Hospital that no information be released about him.
A spokeswoman for the family of Andrea Castillo said family members were requesting privacy and “your prayers.”
Family members of Raul Somarriba referred inquiries to the Hialeah Police Department.
Hialeah Police spokesman Carl Zogby, the Executive Assistant to the Police Chief of Hialeah, said his department would release more information once the investigation was finished. He promised a “full, in-depth and impartial investigation.”
He said the officer was taken to Jackson Memorial Hospital by air rescue and said Castillo and Barrios were transported “by ground.”
Police did not release an estimate of Somarriba’s speed or say if they believed that Barrios had stopped at the stop sign. No other information was available about Officer Somarriba.
Ernesto Sanchez, the President of “The Car Shack,” told D’Oench that one of his surveillance cameras captured what happened during the accident and said Hialeah Police did take a copy of that. But when D’Oench asked if he and his photographer could see and record what the tape showed, Sanchez said his attorney and police detectives advised him not to show anyone the tape.
Sanchez sells pre owned luxury automobiles. The accident left a number of his vehicles with significant damage as his business is located at 930 E. 49th St., where the accident happened.
Across the street, D’Oench also discovered that a surveillance camera at a Hess gas station at 955 E. 49th St. also captured the aftermath of the accident as one of the damaged vehicles landed in front of the service station. But a Hess Corporation spokeswoman, Lori Hecker, told D’Oench that the Hess Corporation did not release its surveillance tape to the media. She said that it would be up to the police to release such tape.