Crime

Miami-Dade cop charged with lying about traffic accident

A Miami-Dade police officer has been charged after investigators say he lied when he told supervisors that his patrol car had been vandalized.

In fact, investigators say, Officer Joshua Zacarias was involved in a hit-and-run crash – likely inside his own police station parking lot in Miami Lakes.

Zacarias, 34, was charged Tuesday with official misconduct.

He is one of a slew of police officers in Miami-Dade arrested in recent months in unrelated cases on allegations ranging from DUI to assisting drug dealers.

Just this week, a Miami officer named Jerry Sutherland surrendered to federal authorities to face allegations that he extorted an illegal sports gambling operation in Liberty City.

As for Zacarias, he reported in March 2013 that someone had used a key to vandalize his police patrol car while it was parked at his home.

But when Zacarias brought back the car to the Northwest District police station, officers noticed the damage appeared to have been sustained in a hit-and-run crash, according to an arrest warrant.

The damage along the entire side of the right side of the car included yellow paint. Internal affairs investigators suspected that Zacarias, after an all-night overtime shift, accidentally hit a chain-link gate at the district station, 5975 Miami Lakes Drive East.

The damage on the car was consistent with the height of the gate latch believed to have caused the damage, according to the warrant. Zacarias, an officer since March 2009, surrendered early Tuesday.

“He’s very upset by the arrest warrant,” said his attorney, Douglas Hartman. “We’re prepared to take this case to trial.”

During the all-night shift before the supposed accident, Zacaras just captured four armed robbery suspects, his lawyer said.

“He went from being a hero to a defendant,” Hartman said.

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