On the day a Florida Highway Patrol officer was laid to rest before hundreds of his friends, family and fellow law enforcement officers, Miami-Dade police are releasing surveillance video of a separate incident involving the hit and run of a motorcycle cop.
The incident happened early Saturday morning, in the area of Southwest 35th Street and Southwest 102 Avenue when a when a light-colored, 4-door sedan appeared to have hit the officer and fled the scene.
The video shows the motorcycle officer riding from left to right, going off screen. Seconds later, the motorcycle’s headlight beam can be seen swerving in the frame of video. Then, the suspect’s car drives into frame in a swerving manner and leaving the scene. The officer was taken to a hospital and is okay.
The officer, who name has not yet been released, “was part of the multi-agency task force conducting a D.U.I. saturation detail,” said Miami-Dade police spokesperson Alvaro Zabaleta in a press release.
The issue of officer safety on the roads was front and center Sunday, as a Haitian hymn kept emotions in check for friends and family at the funeral of killed Florida highway patrol officer Patrick Ambroise.
Ambroise had come to this country 22 years ago and got a job defending its laws. For a few, hymns were not enough as they broke out in uncontrolled screams of grief. Some had to be literally carried away so the funeral could continue in the hot afternoon sun.
Roads were jammed with a slow-moving funeral procession as hundreds of law enforcement officers came from a memorial service at the Miami Beach Convention Center to the Dade memorial park near Opa Locka to pay their final respects.
Ambroise’s death happened May 15 on the Turnpike in Miami-Dade County near the Okeechobee exit. A young driver smashed into the rear of Ambroise's patrol car on the shoulder, causing a fire and trapping Ambroise inside. The third driver was injured and is in serious condition but is stable. Tests found no alcohol or drugs in his blood, FHP says.
"When these things happen like this,” said Col. John Czernis, the man in charge of the Florida Highway Patrol, “we see the impact it has on not just one person but on a family and a community."
Czernis attended the funeral service and the memorial service. Governor Charlie Crist was there too, along with friends from across the continent, like a childhood friend of Ambroise who said she lives in Quebec, Canada.
"So it's very painful for me because he's like a brother,” said Judith Ippolit who grew up with Ambroise in Cap Haitien, Haiti. “The closure’s going to be better for me just because I'm assisting at his funeral."
The accident, the memorial service and the funeral are a stark reminder that too few Florida drivers are following the "Move Over" law.
"Could be a patrol car, an ambulance or a tow truck. Do the right thing. Move over or slow down to 20 miles below the posted speed limit," blares the FHP’s promotional video for the “Move Over” law, which requires approaching drivers to move over one lane whenever they approach official vehicles on the roadside with flashing lights.
FHP is working hard to raise awareness. And they do hand out tickets. There've been so many officers hit and even more close calls. As a result, hundreds of people had to say goodbye to Ambroise.