MIAMI BEACH (CBS/AP) — A Temple University student was shot and killed by police after she reportedly ran down an officer while attempting to flee the scene of an accident.
It happened Sunday around 6 p.m. near 12th Street and Ocean Drive.
Miami Beach Police Chief Daniel Oates says 22-year-old Cariann Denise Hithon, who was driving a black BMW, ran through a red light and hit a Mercedes.
She then accelerated and hit an officer, who was on foot as part of a Columbus Day holiday weekend patrol.
“She started the car and ran away,” witness Miguel Garcia told CBS Miami. “She was, like, going over the policeman in front of her, the officer.”
Garcia said when he saw the woman’s face, she had a wild, crazed expression.
“She was staring, it was very scary looking, I think she was on drugs or something,” said Garcia.
Oates says another officer opened fire and the driver lost control of her vehicle and struck a parked SUV.
Miami Beach police policy allows the use of force when there’s a threat to the public – like an a ramming attack – but otherwise prohibits police from discharging their weapons.
Here in Philadelphia, police can only shoot at a vehicle when a suspect is firing from it.
Florida law, however, justifies use of force when someone who may have committed a felony, like striking a police officer, or fleeing from police.
Pennsylvania has a similar statute.
Following the shooting Hithon was taken to the hospital where she later died. The injured officer has been released from the hospital.
Temple Student Government identified Hithon as one of their own.
“TSG has been made aware of a tragic event,” said Temple Student Government in a statement. “Our thoughts are with Cariann’s friends and family during this tremendously difficult time.”
The girl’s father, Cary Hithon, told CBS Miami his daughter was in South Florida celebrating her 22nd birthday.
She was expected to graduate from Temple in the fall and go on to law school.
As to why his daughter may have acted that way, her father said, “I don’t know. I have no idea. I have no answers. She was just loving life and having a good time.”
Miami-Dade Police detectives are investigating the incident.
CBS3’s Trang Do, Brandon Longo and KYW Newsradio’s Kristen Johanson contributed to this story.