Video: Suspect killed by hit-and-run driver as Tampa police chase him with a taser

The Tampa Police Department is searching for a hit-and-run driver who killed a man running away from police early Friday morning. 

Around 2:20 a.m., police were sent to the 4000 block of West Hillsborough Avenue after someone called 911 saying a man was beating up a woman. The caller explained that he tried to intervene, but it was getting physical, and the suspect also hit a homeless man. 

When an officer arrives, he can be heard on bodycam video asking a woman what is going on, and she replies that she is looking for her keys. 

The officer then tells a shirtless man, later identified as 29-year-old Frank E. Rodriguez, to stay put, but the man walks away and says he doesn’t care what the police tell him to do.  

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The officer replies that when he tells Rodriguez to stop, he needs to stop. When Rodriguez says he doesn’t give a [expletive], the officer responds with, "I don’t give a [expletive] what you care about."

Then Rodriguez walks toward a car that has its driver’s side door open and asks a woman where the keys are located. She tells him she doesn’t know where the keys are and that she doesn’t need his help. 

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At that point, Rodriguez turns around. When the officer tells him he is not free to go and places his hand on Rodriguez’s chest, Rodriguez says, "Don’t touch me, [expletive]. 

The officer can then be seen pulling out a taser and telling Rodriguez to stop. However, Rodriguez runs into the street as the officer chases him while pulling the taser's trigger. 

Courtesy: Tampa Police Department

Courtesy: Tampa Police Department

"Our officer tried to detain the male," Deputy Chief Ruth Cate said. "Unfortunately, a car was also coming at the same time and struck the male," she said. 

Cate said it’s not yet clear if the taser hit the man. 

TPD says it’s considered an in-custody death because the officer was trying to arrest the man when he was hit by the car and killed and that's why  the Florida Department of Law Enforcement will take the lead on that part of the investigation.

Police say they are searching for the driver of the dark four-door sedan that hit Rodriguez, but didn't give any other description of the car. 

Rodriguez has pending felony domestic violence and felony criminal mischief charges from an arrest in Hillsborough County on May 20, 2024.

The woman has non-life-threatening injuries and TPD’s victim’s advocate is working with her.

Officer Luis Garcia, a six-month veteran of the Tampa Police Department with previous law enforcement experience, has been placed on administrative leave, which is standard procedure for an in-custody death investigation. 

The eastbound lanes of Hillsborough Avenue between Lois Avenue and North Dale Mabry Highway were closed for nearly six hours Friday morning while officers investigated. 

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