Detective Shot In Grow House Gunfight Testifies At Bond Hearing
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South Florida Crime
MIAMI (CBS4)—Bond has been denied for a Southwest Miami-Dade man who reportedly stomped on an undercover Miami-Dade Police detective after he had been shot three times by another suspect last July at a marijuana grow house in Southwest Miami-Dade.
The disturbing new details emerged when undercover detective John Saavedra testified for the first time about the shootout at the grow house last July 31st.
Saavedra’s testimony was heard at a bond hearing for Luis Estevanell held Wednesday.
“He was stomping me while I was on the ground,” said 35-year-old Saavedra. “When I saw him, he was stomping me, kicking me, punching me, striking me, taking the gun out of my hand. So I am in fear that he is going to pick up my firearm and kill me with my own firearm,” said Saavedra. “He also ripped off my rosary beads.”
Estevanell’s attorneys had said that his client had no part in the shootout and that Estevanell had tried to get away from the scene but they declined to comment after the hearing.
Circuit Judge Monica Gordo said that based on surveillance video of what happened during the shootout and Saavedra’s testimony, that bond should be denied for Estevanell. She called him a “danger to the community.”
He faces a number of charges including attempted murder of a police officer, possession of cocaine, trafficking in marijuana and second degree felony murder. That’s because under Florida law, anyone who commits a felony during a homicide can be held responsible for that murder.
The surveillance tape captured Saavedra walking up to the home, while wearing his police badge, and then detaining Estevanell, along with other Miami-Dade officers and an F.B.I. agent.
WEB VIDEO EXTRA BELOW: WARNING GRAPHIC VIDEO AND AUDIO: POLICE SHOOTOUT SURVEILLANCE VIDEO
Suddenly, according to police, Gerard Delgado stepped out of a dark-colored BMW with tinted windows and begins firing at police. Delgado hid behind a tree in the front of the house. He was shot and killed during the incident.
Saavedra delivered some dramatic testimony at the hearing.
“I continued firing,” Saavedra said. “I know when I felt I was shot.”
Saavedra broke down in court when he remembered the moment that he nearly lost his life.
“Excuse me a moment,” he said.
After composing himself, he continued, “When I felt the shots, I remembered letting go. I remember letting go of my left hand and I grabbed my abdomen. I continued firing. At the same time I was shot in the leg, my leg gave out. As I was taking that step I collapsed.”
“When I hit the ground, my firearm fell out of my hand,” he testified. “I look down to assess my injuries. I clearly see that I’ve been shot several times in my abdomen and I clearly see that I’ve been hit in my leg.”
There were strong words about Estevanell from both Saavedra and the Miami-Dade Police Benevolent Association.
“I can say that he (Estevanell) is a piece of garbage. That’s about as nice as I can say. He does not belong in society. He needs to be put away,” John Rivera, President of the Miami-Dade P.B.A., told CBS4’s Peter D’Oench.
Saavedra told D’Oench, “People like this need to be in jail. And people in the community need to know that we as police officers will do everything we can to keep everyone safe, even if means putting ourselves in danger.”
Saavedra said there were some emotional moments during the bond hearing.
“It’s hard,” he said. “You remember the day where your life was almost taken…it’s hard. You remember the day your children were almost left without a father.”
Saavedra hopes to return to work next month.
“It means a lot to me, helping the community. I love what I do. I can’t wait to return to what I was doing.”
Miami-Dade Police say they found 80 pounds of marijuana, worth $90,000, at the grow house near Coral Way and Southwest 60th Court.
Saavedra, who said he had been with Miami-Dade Police for 11 years, testified that he approached the home wearing a tactical vest, police badges and a radio.
“I approached in a friendly manner,” he testified. “I was trying to get to the door as quickly as possible to see if I detected an odor of marijuana. I could barely get a word out of my mouth before he [Estevanell] started yelling at me.”
“He appeared aggressive. He was shouting. It seemed like he was trying to get me away from the home and alert someone inside the home,” he said. “It seemed like he was doing anything he could to make me vulnerable to attack.”
“I’ve been doing this a long time and approaching hundreds of houses,” Saavedra said. “I’ve never had anything like this happen to me before.”
Saavedra, named P.B.A. Officer of the year in 2005 and has been nominated again, said the bullet is still lodged in him.
He was struck twice in the stomach and once in the left side of his hip, where he still has nerve damage.
“He’s an incredible man,” said Rivera. “It goes to show you how important out survival training is.”