Former officer turns himself in over hit-and-run
MIAMI (WSVN) -- A former police officer turned himself into authorities almost five months to the day he fled the scene of an accident.
Retired Miami Police Sergeant Juan Antonio Herrera had no comment after bonding out on Wednesday. He turned himself in on several counts of leaving the scene of an accident with injuries.
Investigators said that last September, Herrera's black Mercedes Benz slammed into the back of a taxi cab and fled the scene of the accident at the junction of Interstate 95 and US1. The cab driver, Jean-Marie Vital, and four University of Miami students riding in the vehicle sustained multiple injuries. The impact destroyed the front end of Herrera's sedan.
"I'm still angry," said Vital. "He knows the law. He knows everything about the law, and he is a cop. And he hit me and [left] the scene," he continued.
When Florida Highway Patrol investigators went through Herrera's car, they found two child safety seats, a six-pack of beer and Herrera's business card. Investigators said DNA tests of blood on the deployed airbag were a match for Herrera, placing him at the scene.
Herrera, a homicide detective and a 22-year veteran on the force, was a fixture on the TV reality show "The First 48," which chronicled police work in Miami. Herrera retired after tha crash and is no longer a Miami police officer.
Vital said his life has changed as a result of the accident. "I cannot work the same way I used to work because [I'm in] too much pain," he said.
The retired officer's actions are just the latest in a string of high-profile cases for the Miami Police Department. Former Miami Police Officer Harold James pled guilty to extortion in federal court Feb. 2. Miami Police Officer Luis Hernandez was charged with sexual battery and armed kidnapping Jan. 30, the same day Officer Reynaldo Goyos was fired from the force for shooting and killing unarmed driver Travis McNeil in Feb. 2011.
No criminal charges were filed, and the State Attorney's Office declined to prosecute, an outcome that doesn't sit well with McNeil's family. "I feel like that was a great injustice done to myself and my family," said Sheila McNeil, the victim's mother.
Herrera has been charged with five counts of leaving the scene of an accident with injuries and one count of leaving the scene with property damage. If convicted, he could face five years in prison.
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