MIAMI (CBSMiami) – When Miami homicide detective Juan “Johnny” Herrera stepped out of jail this past February he didn’t say a word. The veteran officer, star of A & E’s The First 48 was used to being on camera and arresting criminals–and now the tables have turned.
This week, prosecutors released evidence in a case they are building against the distinguished officer from a hit and run accident in September of last year.
Yellow paint on Herrera’s Mercedes serves as evidence that the car slammed into the back of the cab in the middle of the night. The car was found abandoned on I-95. In the back of the car were two car seats for Herrera’s children. In the front passenger seat there was an opened 12 pack of Miller Lite.
According to the newly released evidence, the night started with him picking up a friend, Maria Elena Alvarez.
The two went to a party, then bar hoping, hitting up the VIP room at Blue Martini and then Red Bar in Brickell.
In a recorded interview with investigators Alvarez said, “He had only one or two beers at the party. And then another one at Blue Martini. That’s it that I physically saw.” A detective then inquired about Red Bar. Alvarez answered, “I didn’t see. I don’t know if he ordered a drink. I never saw him pick up a drink.”
Sometime around 3 A.M., Herrera disappeared from Red Bar.
“Before I know I was like Johnny’s gone?” Alvarez recalled. Her keys and phone were in his car. Alvarez continued, “Where is he? I need to get home. I don’t have my keys. I don’t have my phone.”
When investigators asked Alvarez if there was an issue at Red Bar she responded, ”No! No. no no no. He was fine.”
A short time later, an accident happened where I-95 meets US-1.
The Mercedes slammed into a taxi cab loaded with four University of Miami students. The cab driver got out and could see a man standing by the Mercedes but he then disappeared.
In a recorded interview with officers, Vital Jean Marie said “I could not see his face. Nothing.”
Who it was is still unknown, but investigators say DNA found in the blood on the airbag was a match to Herrera.
Herrera’s trial is scheduled to start in July. Herrera was over 20 year veteran of the Miami Police Department. He retired in December.