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Posted: 2/27/2006 6:10:17 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 2/28/2006 4:42:46 AM EDT by cheaptrickfan]
ETA - it appears that the invesigators have not determined if the driver is an "illegal" yet. (as if isn't hard to do - cannot speak English?? fake SSN?? fake DL??? must be illegal! - - DUH!)



full article

Family Mourns Veteran Detective
By ANTHONY McCARTNEY amccartney@tampatrib.com
Published: Feb 27, 2006

TAMPA - As a boy, it was clear to Hector Serrano that his baby brother wanted to be a cop.

It was a goal Juan Serrano achieved twice, once in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and again in Tampa after moving here in the mid-1980s.

The transition was not simple. A special officer in Puerto Rico who helped handle visits by dignitaries, Serrano was not simply handed a badge. Instead, he had to join the police academy and rise through the ranks.

He did it without complaining, Hector Serrano recalled.

Juan Serrano's devotion to law enforcement was one of his defining traits, his family said Sunday, addressing the media a day after the 17-year Tampa police veteran was killed in a traffic crash retuning home from an assignment.

A detective with Tampa's Criminal Intelligence Bureau, Juan Serrano, 49, was a bodyguard and driver for Mayor Pam Iorio. He had attended the Bank of America Gasparilla Distance Classic with Iorio on Saturday morning.

He was struck in his city-issued car by a man who ran a red light at Interstate 75 and Gibsonton Road about 12:45 p.m. after leaving the race, sheriff's officials said.

He died at Tampa General Hospital.

The driver, Jose Luis Espinosa, of 6129 Palm Ave., No. 11, in Gibsonton, was booked into the Orient Road Jail early Sunday after being released from Tampa General. He was arrested on charges of driving without a license and causing a death and leaving the scene of an accident involving a death.

Espinosa, who has been in the United States for about eight months, holds a driver's license from Mexico but is not licensed to drive in Florida, Hillsborough sheriff's spokesman J.D. Callaway said. Espinosa is being held without bail at the request of federal authorities, pending an investigation into his immigration status.

During an interview, Espinosa told deputies he was distracted when he entered the intersection and looked up to see his vehicle colliding with Serrano's, Callaway said. He also told deputies he fled the scene because he was confused.

Deputies later interviewed a passenger in Espinosa's car, Marco Antonio Rosas-Galves, 26, but he is being treated as a witness and will not be charged.

Hector Serrano said the family had not had time to consider how Juan Serrano died, but was overwhelmed by the amount of support they were receiving.

"We want him to be remembered as a great father, a great son and a great detective," his daughter Johan said Sunday.

Serrano is survived by his wife, Mylin; daughters Johan and Doriann; son, Juan Luis; three stepchildren, Richard Ruiz, Natalie Ruiz and Paula Thorn; and two brothers.

Hector Serrano said his brother "always wanted to be the one doing the right thing."

Despite working long hours, Juan Serrano made sure he spoke each week to his family members, spread out across the United States and Puerto Rico, said Hector Serrano, a member of the U.S. Coast Guard.

Work left Juan little time for hobbies, but he enjoyed yardwork and riding his motorcycle.

"He was always working," Hector Serrano said. "I always teased him - I'm the one in the military, and you work more than I do."



Link Posted: 3/1/2006 9:23:27 AM EDT
Here is an update from TBO.com


'The Whole City Is Grieving'
By ELLEN GEDALIUS egedalius@tampatrib.com
Published: Feb 28, 2006

TAMPA - Mayor Pam Iorio sobbed during a news conference Monday about the death of her security officer, driver and friend, Detective Juan Serrano.

"I wish that Saturday could be played over, all over again," Iorio said. "I wonder why such a bad thing could happen to such a good person."

Serrano, 49, was killed Saturday when his city-issued car was struck by a man who ran a red light at Interstate 75 and Gibsonton Road about 12:45 p.m., police said. Serrano, a 17-year Tampa police veteran, died at Tampa General Hospital.

Serrano had just dropped off Iorio at her south Tampa home. They had spent the morning together at the Gasparilla Distance Classic.

"I went into the house; Liana went to the coffee shop, and Juan, he went to heaven," Iorio said.

Liana Lopez is Iorio's spokeswoman.

Iorio paused several times as she made her comments, wiping her eyes and overcome with emotion.

Serrano's death was determined to be in the line of duty, making him the first Tampa Police Department officer to die on duty since Lois Marrero was fatally shot in 2001.

The decision means that his wife will receive 50 percent of his pension, plus medical benefits. His wife and children are eligible for college tuition scholarships and other benefits, including funeral expenses.

Chief Stephen Hogue wore a black band across his badge, a sign of mourning.

"Essentially, the whole city is grieving today," Hogue said.

Serrano was devoted to the mayor. No matter how early or late Iorio attended an event, Serrano was there to protect her and drive her to the next destination.

He scheduled his vacation time to coincide with Iorio's so he always would be available.

"We'd get in the car, and I'd say, 'What kind of adventures will we have this week?'" Iorio said. "Because that's how I viewed it, ... a series of adventures we would have together."

Serrano had worked with Iorio since she took office in April 2003. He also drove, at least occasionally, for former Mayors Dick Greco and Sandy Freedman.

"He was such a quiet, sweet guy, just the nicest man," Greco said.

"I never heard him raise his voice," Freedman said. "You knew he was in charge, but he was never a real macho, I'm the cop, kind of guy."

The practice of having regular drivers and security for mayors began with Freedman's administration, though previous mayors used drivers occasionally, said Bob Seth, the police department's security coordinator. The department had received threats against Freedman, in part because she was Tampa's first female Jewish mayor, Seth said. Greco used drivers only occasionally.

Different cities handle protection differently. St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker doesn't have a driver or bodyguard, but the mayor of Orlando has a lieutenant assigned to him.

The practice is unlikely to change in Tampa. Another officer has been assigned to Iorio for the time being.

"There are so many unstable people in the world, and she is a very high-profile individual," Hogue said. "I insist she has someone with her."

As for the man accused of hitting Serrano, Judge Walter Heinrich on Monday ordered Jose Luis Espinosa held without bail. Espinosa faces charges of driving without a license and leaving the scene of an accident involving death. Prosecutors asked Heinrich to withhold bail, saying he is a flight risk and pointing out that Immigration and Customs Enforcement has a hold on him.

The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office, which is handling the investigation, wants the public's help finding witnesses to the crash. Detectives want to talk to a man who was driving a Ford Tempo and videotaped some of the crash scene, as well as a man who was wearing a yellow shirt who was parked near the detective's vehicle. Call (813) 247-0254 with information.
PUBLIC SERVICE

A public funeral service is planned for Thursday at Sacred Heart Catholic Church, 509 N. Florida Ave., Tampa. A time for the service had not been set Monday. Check TBO.com for arrangements.
Link Posted: 3/1/2006 1:31:21 PM EDT
holy crap! they release the suspects personal info and address in florida? sucks to be that guy, im kinda worried about reprisals against him, however im sure anything he gets for fleeing a hit and run on an officer will be well deserved(although i dont believe that true justice exists outside of courts) ill make sure to say a prayer for the officer and his family as well
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