Detective shot in marijuana bust testifies in court
MIAMI (WSVN) -- A South Florida undercover detective took the stand in court Wednesday and re-lived the pain following a dramatic gun battle that left him seriously injured.
Miami-Dade Police Detective John Saavedra was very emotional at times in court on Wednesday afternoon.
Saavedra testified in the case against Luis Estevanell, the alleged accomplice of Gerard Delgado, the man police said shot Saavedra when a drug bust at his suspected marijuana grow house escalated into a shootout that was caught on surveillance cameras. Delgado was shot and killed during the July 31, 2012 shootout.
Delgado shot detective Saavedra three times in the stomach. "I tried to take a step sideways to get a better target," Saavedra said. As I'm firing, he shot me in the leg." Saavedra survived but has not been able to return to the police force since the incident.
The presiding judge said she didn't feel safe releasing Estevanell out to society and denied his bond while he awaits trial on charges of second degree felony murder and attempted murder of a police officer.
Authorities released the surveillance video of the deadly shootout on May 9. Cameras at the suspected grow house, located on Southwest 60th Court north of Coral Way, captured Delgado, getting into his BMW just moments before detectives and an FBI agent arrived at the home to investigate the growing of marijuana.
Upon arrival, they came across Estevanell. As they spoke with him, Delgado exited his vehicle and opened fire on the officers. The shootout ensued for a while. Officers can be seen taking cover and firing back.
Saavedra spoke about what happened after the shots were fired and said Estevanell attacked him. "Once I returned fire, I then get struck," he said. "I get punched in the side of the head.
Saavedra added that Estevanell continued to assault him even after he identified himself as a law enforcement officer. "I was able to strike him, he fell back," he said. "I then began telling him, 'Police, police, police,' I shouted very clearly, 'Get on the ground, police,' and he rushed at me."
Saavedra said Estevanell kicked him and ripped a rosary off his neck, adding that he feared for his life in an even that moves him to this day. "When you start talking about it, and you remember so vividly somebody trying to take your life, remember so vividly the faces of your family when you see them after you almost lost your life, it's very hard to deal with."
Detectives found 80 pounds of marijuana worth tens of thousands of dollars inside the house.
Estevanell's attorney said his client was at the home for an unrelated business. Estevanell's attorney put his wife on the stand to testify that her husband was a jeweler using Delgado's house to melt down gold and had no idea about the marijuana business.
Officials countered that this is no excuse for Estevanell's alleged attack on Saavedra. "I can tell you that he's a piece of garbage," said John Rivera, president of the Miami-Dade Police Benevolent Association. "That's about as nice as I can say it. He does not belong in society. He belongs to be locked away."
The judge said that there is sufficient evidence for the several charges that he faces, including second-degree felony murder. Even though Estevanell did not pull the trigger, in the State of Florida, if you commit a crime that results in the death of somebody, they can also charge you with felony murder.
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