Friend Disputes Police Narrative in Death of Miami Graffiti Artist Demz



Last Tuesday I blogged about Delbert Rodriguez Gutierrez, a graffiti artist better known as "Demz", who was hit by a Miami Police car after being caught tagging at the art festival Art Basel. At the time, Demz was in critical condition with a brain injury. He died Tuesday night, becoming the latest in a long list of recent, suspicious fatalities at the hands of U.S. police.  

Miami Police Officer Michael Cadavid, who was driving the car that hit Demz, said the 21-year-old had fled from cops and turned down a side street, where he crouched down and hid between two cars. When Cadavid turned the corner in his car, Demz jumped out at him, claimed Officer Cadavid. 

"It's unfortunate that the young man tried to run from police," Miami Police Chief Manuel Orosa said by way of condolences.

But family and friends are skeptical of the police narrative, reports the Miami New Times. Danny Garcia, a friend tagging with Demz that night, said there's no way Demz had time to disappear around a corner and hide before police hit him: 

As Garcia was finishing up his tag, he says, he glanced over his shoulder to check on his friend. That's when he saw the flashing red and blue lights from an unmarked silver Chevrolet sedan—a patrol car driven by Det. Michael Cadavid—approaching. Garcia took off sprinting. As he ran, he glanced back to check on Rodriguez, only to see a flash of his friend's white T-shirt as he abruptly rounded the corner onto 24th Street, followed closely by the Chevy.

Garcia kept running but then returned to the scene a few minutes later after hearing ambulance sirens. He questions the police's suggestion that they lost sight of Rodriguez or that his friend would have been able to hide between parked cars or lunge into the street. There simply wasn't time, he says.

"It was literally seconds," he said of the time from when Garcia began running to when he would have been hit as Cadavid's car turned the corner. "There wasn't no 'He was running and then he hid,' like they said. He tried to cross the street, and whatever happened, the cop struck him."

A widely circulated photo posted on Instagram seems to support Garcia's claims. In the photo … Rodriguez is splayed on the ground in front of the Chevy, stopped midturn as it rounded the corner. Only one parked car is visible near Rodriguez. "Where would he hide, just on the road?" Garcia asks. "That whole story they gave is baloney."

"It looked like he was trying to run across," Garcia adds. "And the cop turned the corner really quick and struck him… I'm really hoping it was an accident, but I don't know if he purposely ran my friend over."

Officer Cadivad's Internal Affairs file, reviewed by the paper, shows a history of complaints about his aggressive behavior, road rage, and use of force. Most of the complaints were ruled inconclusive. In one, Cadivad was found negligent and guilty of improper procedure for his role in an "infamous" incident involving Miami cops getting rough with Halloween revelers.

A video allegedly from the hacker group Anonymous says: "Miami Police, you have caught our attention. Art is not a crime, and we will not tolerate fellow artists being in danger for expressing their first amendment rights by the same people who swore an oath to uphold and protect that very right."

NEXT: Pro-Police Witness in Ferguson Grand Jury May Have Been Lying [UPDATED]

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. The cop story never made sense.

    If he was ducked down between a couple of cars (or behind a car), and the cops were still driving (rather than stopped because they spotted him), why would he jump out before the cops had gone past him?

    I think the photo tells the story – the cops gunned it going around the corner without a good view of where they were heading, and ran him over.

    For a mere prole, that would be multiple felonies.

    The cops will walk, lies and all.

    1. Ya, I don’t quite get the whole jumping out at the car thing either. It seems rather odd and if I was a prosecutor that would set off my bs detector the moment I read or heard that.

      1. It’s the inverse of the phenomenom I’ve noticed. Any time a prole’s car is moving near a cop, the car always hits the cop in the leg.

  2. At what point in this country did LEO’s decide that all suspects who run from them can be executed at their whim? I could swear the law says they must present a danger to the public before an officer can use deadly force against a fleeing subject?

    1. Especially since tv shows still routinely show cops not firing at fleeing suspects. That’s the popular public perception of what they’re supposed to do (not shoot people who aren’t attacking), but it seems more and more that’s just completely wrong. Running from the cops carries the possibility of a death sentence.

        1. Cops should give TV producers some kind of award for propagandizing the “noble cop” lie incessantly. Without the entertainment industry fellating cops constantly, their image would be far worse.

          1. Until I became a regular here and started reading Balko’s stuff, cop shows were almost all I watched. CSI, Law & Order, Hawaii 5-0… all those shows. Loved them. Couldn’t get enough.

            They make me sick now for that very reason. Well, that and the constant “misbehaving cop breaking the rules and the Constitution, but it’s totally worth it to get the bad guy” trope that nearly episode of these shows is based on.

            1. Yeah, I stopped being able to handle cop shows years ago for the same reasons. They’re sickening.

              1. Same here. My wife watches them, and I just leave the room. If I stay, I reflexively yell at the TV, “Shut Up and ask for a Lawyer !…SHUT UP !”

              2. I made the mistake a while back, of watching “Cops Shots Fired” or something like that. Basically a compilation of cops shooting people. In one clip I remember the cop pulls into a gas station to investigate some disturbance, possible robbery I think. Anyways, the suspect jumps in his car, likely not even seeing the cop standing behind it as it was dark. He pulls out in an attempt to get away from the scene but the cop was expertly positioned just enough behind the reversing car that he could claim the suspect was trying to run him over. The cop yells “He tried to kill me!?!?!” and proceeds to unload his weapon into the car killing the guy. It was like Austin Powers running over that guy with the steam roller but, possibly more absurd.

            2. If you remove government-employee shows and sitcoms-with-dick-jokes-only you have no TV programming left.

              1. If you remove government-employee shows and sitcoms-with-dick-jokes-only you have no TV programming left.


                Hoarders, bitches!

      1. Running FROM a cop, certainly running AT a cop….

        Just being anywhere in the vicinity of cops can be bad for your health – I think we can agree on that. Hence, why I avoid them at all times as much as possible.

      2. Beyond that, the first or second (can’t recall, because I quit watching) episode of Gotham has Gordon’s partner worried that he shot and killed the wrong guy, after said “wrong guy” was already shooting at the cops in question, which pretty much never happens in real life.
        Oh, and shit-artists becoming shit-stains on the shit-street.

        1. The shit-winds are blowing, Ricky!

          (I’m actually rewatching the entire series from the beginning again, it’s great.)

          1. Check your shit barometer, Bubbles. Past two seasons were less than stellar, but am still looking forward to the next.

  3. Another thread for Dunphy to either avoid or shit on with straw man after straw man.

  4. Yeah, but Doherty’s post demonstrates that witness testimony is sometimes unreliable, so I don’t believe this, either.

    /lack of discernment

  5. Cops lie,or cover for those that do,now,the drinking lamp is lit

  6. Fuck “graffiti artists.” Get permission or buy or rent your own wall or canvas. If you die while vandalizing someone else’s property, let that be a lesson to you.

    1. Yeah. That kid shouldn’t have vandalized that squad car with his skull.

    2. I don’t see how your opinion of graffiti artists (no quotes needed, being vandalism doesn’t make it not art) should matter here. If it were the property owner protecting his property, that would be one thing, but this is cops speeding around on city streets in a dangerous manner. They could have easily hit an innocent bystander as well. Should all petty criminals be subject to execution on the streets?

      1. It’s not an “execution” if you die in an accident while committing a crime, or while running away from the scene. I doubt the cop wanted to run him over.

        1. I doubt the cop wanted to run him over.

          I have no opinion on this topic.

          Wouldn’t be shocked to learn that the cop intended to just bump him/knock him down.

          1. That’s possible. But my core gripe is that I hate the trope of “He was only breaking a little law, and so he didn’t deserve to die!” Yeah, well, all crime is risky. All encounters with police are risky. Accidents happen. Some cops are trigger-happy. Some are bad drivers. Take that into account, and don’t whine about it when something bad happens to you while you are committing a crime, or running away from it.

            I have total sympathy for (e.g.) the unlucky bozos who are in their beds and a SWAT team breaks into the wrong address, but for this guy, or even Eric Garner, any rational person can see they helped bring about their own fates. That doesn’t totally excuse the cops, but it should be taken into account.

            1. “I’m not excusing the cops, but it was totally their own fault and they deserved what they got.”

              Fuck. Off.

              1. No, I carefully said that it was not “totally” their own fault. But it was clearly partly their fault. It’s absurd to deny it. If they hadn’t been committing those crimes, they would not have had those encounters with police. Why is this even controversial? It’s obvious.

  7. This situation was made possible by two issues.

    One: A lack of care or concern for human life by the police. I will not judge the situation here, but this cop seems to have a reputation that does not help his cause at all and he has been getting away with it. This is a police state issue in that aggressive police are protected rather than punished all too often.

    Two: A lack of respect for property rights. The hackers quoted at the end are a prime example of this. If you are vandalizing private property, it is not art and it is a crime that may well warrant police action.

    Mix one and two together and you get what we have here. Stupid people who believe vandalism is art being killed by aggressive cops who have a better than good chance of getting away with murder.

    1. Why do so many people think that being crime makes graffiti not art? The one has no bearing at all on the other. A lot of graffiti is just writing your name on shit, but a lot most certainly is art. That doesn’t make it OK to decorate other people’s property. But it’s still art.

      1. For something to be art, it must be beautiful. I find the defacement of private property to be completely abhorrent, therefore this cannot be art no matter the aesthetics of the graffiti.

        If I cannot determine graffiti of any quality to be beautiful, because it violates somebody else’s private property, then it is not art to me. If, however, the graffiti artist had permission from the owner of the property and I found the graffiti aesthetically pleasing, then it becomes art for me.

        If you find the violation of private property to be a thing of beauty, then perhaps you should make sure your priorities are in order concerning basic natural rights.

        And just because somebody else calls it art, doesn’t mean it is art. In their mind, it is art, in mine, it is vandalism. Just like to some, Cubism is art, but to me, it’s just really shitty Realism and therefore not art, because it is not beautiful to me.

        1. There can be non-beautiful art. I don’t really care if he was doing “art” or not, because it was vandalizing someone else’s property.

          1. There cannot be “non-beautiful” art. Art is subjective. If I don’t think a particular expression or creation is beautiful, then it ceases to be art in my mind, and that is the only fucking mind that matters to me.

            If someone splashes some paint on a canvas, I would consider that a waste of canvas, not art, whereas a Jackson Pollack fan, might call it art. Thats fine for them to call it art, because in their mind it is art, in mine, its just paint splashed on a canvas.

    2. I guess all the recent and on-going teach-ins have been ineffective and this guy paid for his inattention. By now, we all know the better way when confronted by cops is “Hands Up. I Surrender.” Anything less is just begging to be beaten or killed for resisting. Whether black or white or
      anything else, many cops will not countenance disrespect.

      1. By now, we all know the better way when confronted by cops is “Hands Up. I Surrender.”

        Also known as “refusing police commands (to freeze)” and/or “making a furtive movement that caused the cop to fear for his life.”

  8. Officer Cadivad’s Internal Affairs file, reviewed by the paper, shows a history of complaints about his aggressive behavior, road rage, and use of force.

    Sounds like a good cop to me. You wouldn’t want someone with a mature mien who de-esclates situations and uses force sparingly when patroling their sector.

  9. the officer was just creating involuntary roadkill art. Since he was making art, and “art is not a crime” per Anonymous’s totally sound and unimpeachable logic, he can’t and shouldn’t be punished.

  10. My best friend’s step-mother makes $66 /hr on the internet . She has been out of work for 10 months but last month her payment was $12188 just working on the internet for a few hours.
    have a peek at this site —– http://www.jobsfish.com

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.