A Florida graffiti artist was taken off life support over the weekend after he sustained a brain injury when he was hit by an undercover Miami Police officer’s car while he was tagging a building
Miami Police said 21-year-old street artist Delbert Rodriguez Gutierrez, who goes by the name “Demz,” was hit while running from officers after he was caught tagging a building. The City of Miami Police said that Gutierrez ran when he saw the officers, and Detective Michael Cadavid’s car hit the suspect when he jumped from between two vehicles.
The incident has many street artists in Wynwood, a trendy arts hub in Miami, very upset. “He shouldn’t be in the hospital with a brain injury right now,” Rodriguez’s friend Neo told NBC 6. “He should be out here doing graffiti with me.”
According to City of Miami Police, Rodriguez was spotted by officers tagging a privately-owned building on Friday off of NW 5th Avenue and 24th Street around 2 a.m. Friday morning. Police say that once he saw flashing lights, Rodriguez ran.
Police said when Detective Michael Cadavid turned the corner in his unmarked car, Rodriguez jumped out from between two vehicles and the detective’s car struck him. Rodriguez is listed in critical condition at Jackson Memorial Hospital with a brain injury.
It is unclear if Rodriguez had permission to “tag” the building. Street artists said that while protocol calls for artists to ask owners’ permission, many opt to do it illegally.
“In the community you get more respect if you do illegal,” said artist Jasmine Deardan. “You don’t get permission and you just do your throw-up or your tag.”
The incident happened just hours before hundreds of people took to the streets of Miami to protest, in part, the death of Israel “Reefa” Hernandez, who was killed after a Miami Beach Police officer shocked him with a taser last year.