Graffiti Artist Critical After Being Run Over by Police Cruiser During Chase

A man is fighting for his life after he was run over by a police cruiser.

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 incident has many street artists in Wynwood 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.

"He probably shouldn't have ran, you know, considering that it is Wynwood and it's an art district and everyone is basically doing graffiti," Neo said. "The cops might have just given him a chance."

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.

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