Courts

Ex-police sergeant featured in “The First 48” arrested in Miami hit-and-run

 

Prosecutors say Juan Herrera, who was once featured on A&E’s “The First 48,” abandoned his Mercedes at an I-95 wreck. DNA linking Herrera to the accident was found on an airbag.

dovalle@MiamiHerald.com

A former Miami police sergeant who investigated hundreds of homicides found himself behind bars Wednesday accused of ditching his Mercedes after an off-duty car wreck on Interstate 95.

Juan “Johnny” Herrera, 46, was charged with five counts of leaving the scene of an accident with injury. He left Miami-Dade County Jail after posting bond Wednesday afternoon.

Herrera is well known to viewers of The First 48, the A&E reality show that follows Miami homicide detectives as they investigate real-life murders.

The arrest is the latest black eye for Miami police, which has been stung by a slew of recent officer arrests.

Last week, Miami Officer Luis Hernandez was accused of fondling a woman he was supposed to take to jail. He is facing trial for sexual battery and armed kidnapping.

In recent weeks, the FBI has also arrested two Miami officers for allegedly protecting an illegal gambling house in Liberty City. They have since pleaded guilty, and a group of others are under investigation.

Last week, the department also announced it was firing an officer who shot and killed an unarmed motorist during a traffic stop in Little Haiti two years ago. Prosecutors did not file charges, but police nevertheless said the officer violated department policies.

As for Herrera, Florida Highway Patrol investigators say he rear-ended a taxi on I-95 south near the Southwest 25th Road exit at about 3:40 a.m., then fled on foot.

Injured were University of Miami students Jordan Cunningham, Bianca Vanrell, Robert Purcell and Madeline Davidoff.

All suffered injuries to their back and neck, while Vanrell “was incapacitated and unable to walk,” according to an arrest warrant. She suffered extensive bruising and back inflammation, the warrant said.

Troopers found Herrera’s badly damaged black Mercedes-Benz C-250 about 500 feet away from the taxi, yellow paint on its bumper.

Investigators found two child seats in the back seat, Herrera’s business car on the floor and a six-pack of beer on the passenger seat.

Tests of the electronic systems of the car revealed that only one person, the driver, was in the car at the time of car. And DNA taken from blood on the car’s airbag eventually placed Herrera behind the wheel of his Mercedes-Benz that night, the warrant said.

Whether Herrera was drinking while driving will never be known — troopers could not test Herrera’s blood alcohol content because he was not at the scene. He was identified as a suspect because the car is registered in his name.

Herrera, a 22-year veteran, retired in December, three months after the crash.

His defense attorney, Sam Rabin, said Wednesday: “Johnny had a long and distinguished career as a Miami police homicide detective. He should be remembered for all the great things he did as a detective rather than this one mistake he made.”

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