Surveillance video played in a Miami-Dade court Thursday shows police narrowly missing a face-to-face encounter with a gunman who would seconds later pop out of a parked car and fire three bullets into an officer's stomach.
The graphic footage from July 2012 shows suspected marijuana grow house operator Gerardo Delgado, smoking a cigarette, walk from the front door of his West Miami-Dade home and slide into a parked, dark-tinted BMW in the driveway.
About two seconds later, an unmarked law enforcement vehicle reverses to a stop in front of the house and police officers stride toward the front door to investigate the property.
When the officers attempt to corral Delgado's similarly-dressed cohort Luis Estevanell in the driveway, Delgado bursts from the BMW, firing a handgun. Officer John Saavedra returns fire, but stumbles out of view, struck three times below his bulletproof vest.
A wounded Delgado takes refuge behind a tree as officers continue firing from the street. Moments later, Delgado is struck in the head as a bullet finds its way through the tree branches. His pistol arcs through the air as he falls to the ground, where he lays moving for several minutes.
He was later pronounced dead on scene. View the full video below. Warning: graphic.
The video is a stunning piece of evidence in the case against Estevanell. Along with cocaine possession and marijuana trafficking, he is charged with Delgado's second degree murder because of a Florida law under which those committing felonies in which a death occurs can be held responsible.
WSVN reports that though Saavedra survived the shooting, he has not been able to return to work.
“I’m doing better,” he told CBS Miami. “But I am still in pain.”
The Miami Herald reports violent confrontations at grow houses in Miami-Dade have increased as the illegal business booms, according to police:
In February, Miami-Dade narcotics detectives got into a vicious gunfight with two men they say were running a growhouse in West Kendall. One of the men died in a blaze sparked during the firefight, and another man escaped but hanged himself from a tree not long after.
Two years ago, four armed robbers — suspected on ripping off marijuana growhouses — were shot and killed in a firefight with police in the Redland. In 2008, a Miami-Dade detective was shot in the face with birdshot by a man guarding a marijuana grow house in Homestead.
An extended bond hearing for Estevanell continues with more testimony Friday, the paper reports.