Tijuana police pursuing robbery suspects in a marked pickup ran over and killed a grandmother on Wednesday, September 17, as she attempted to cross a Zona Norte street to buy some midday birria.
María Elena Pérez Cortez, whose age was reported as 65, 63, and 60 (depending on the newspaper), died on Calle Michoacán between Avenida Miguel F. Martínez and Avenida Mutualismo after being struck by a police truck that had stopped suddenly and backed up, according to press accounts.
Police said they were chasing suspects who had just robbed the Maxilana money exchange on Avenida Constitución between Calle Segunda and Calle Tercera in downtown Tijuana. By the time the pursuit reached the Zona Norte, the suspects were jumping from roof-to-roof in their attempt to evade capture, police said.
When the officer driving the police pickup spotted the suspects, he stopped suddenly and slammed the vehicle into reverse, just at the time María Elena Pérez tried to cross the street in the middle of the block, police told the press.
The driver was unable to see her because she was in the vehicle's blind spot and, as a result, the rear of the police pickup struck and killed her, authorities said.
Jaime Valencia, an investigator for the transit police, told El Sol de Tijuana that the incident was an accident and declined further comment other than to say it was under investigation.
Witnesses to the accident told the newspaper that it appeared to them police were trying to cover up evidence of any culpability on their part. A witness said the driver, who appeared to be in shock, tried to move the pickup, prompting neighbors to stand in front of it in an effort to stop him. Despite their efforts, the witness said, the officer was eventually able to move the truck.
Other witnesses complained that it took an ambulance at least half an hour to arrive at the scene, according to El Sol.
The police officer who was behind the wheel was taken into custody for questioning by state investigators, while the two suspects he was pursuing were jailed, pending charges by prosecutors.