A man is in critical condition after being hit by a D.C. police cruiser Monday afternoon -- and a witness tells News4 he had tried to beat the "don't walk" signal.
The pedestrian was hit about 1:45 p.m. at Connecticut Avenue and L Street NW, north of Farragut Square. According to the preliminary investigation, the man was walking across Connecticut Avenue in a crosswalk, carrying a briefcase, when a side mirror of a police SUV slammed into him, Lt. Ronald Wilkins of the Metropolitan Police Department's accident reconstruction unit said.
"The officer made an evasive maneuver to try to avoid the pedestrian, and it appears, preliminarily, that he sideswiped the mirror with the pedestrian, knocking the pedestrian down," Wilkins told News4.
The driver of the police SUV then crashed into a median.
The man, whose identity was not immediately released, was rushed to a hospital with critical injuries. The officer also was hurt, D.C. Fire and E.M.S. said. His injuries were not serious.
A woman told News4 she saw the horrific scene unfold in front of her and that the victim had tried to beat a "don't walk" sign as a police cruiser raced ahead with lights and sirens on.
"I was getting ready to cross over Connecticut Avenue and I saw that I didn't have enough time, so I stopped at the corner, and I just saw a man run out," the 23-year-old woman said, asking to be named only as Allie.
She saw the cruiser speed in her direction.
"I'm not sure if the officer was chasing the car -- there was a car in front of him -- the sirens and lights were definitely on," she said.
Seconds later, she saw the man get hit.
"It was one of the most upsetting things I think I've ever witnessed," she said.
Allie called 911 and officers, including one on a bicycle, arrived before she even had hung up.
Officials initially said the victim was a cyclist, not a pedestrian. Witnesses said one of the first responding officers and a passerby had laid their bikes on the ground as they worked to help the man.
Witness Margarita Noriega wrote on Twitter that the victim flipped into the air upon impact and the SUV then slammed into the median.
Investigators closed the intersection for hours to determine the cause of the crash, and were checking whether the officer and the pedestrian had obeyed traffic signals.
D.C. police recently targeted an intersection one block away for jaywalking enforcement. In one hour, officers wrote 200 tickets.