Beaumont Police Officer Brian Hebert, who had been with the police department for just over 10 years and was up for a promotion to sergeant, was killed in the line of duty Friday night, July 8, 2011, during a high speed chase.
According to officers, Hebert was attempting to deploy spike strips near the intersection of Dowlen Road and Ivanhoe Lane in an effort to stop a Dodge Nitro being driven by John Wesley Nero, a 30-year-old white male who was fleeing from police when the incident occurred. Hebert was behind his car putting on his traffic vest when Nero swerved into the center turning lane where the patrol car was parked and struck it head-on, according to officers who spoke with The Examiner.
Nero is currently in police custody at Christus St. Elizabeth Hospital and facing a charge of capital murder for killing Hebert. A Jefferson County judge has set his bond at $250,000.
Officers said Nero had been involved in a domestic disturbance and physically assaulted his mother and grandmother with a makeshift club after being caught looking a child pornography on his computer. The family members called police and once officers arrived at the home located at 5925 Chisholm Trail, they used information from the family members to issue an attempt to locate on Nero’s vehicle, and that information was passed along throughout the department. The officers also took Nero's computer into custody for evidentiary purposes.
Later, officers received another disturbance call from the residence on Chisholm Trail, but when they arrived Nero had again fled. One of the family members questioned by officers said Nero would “hang out” near the mall and over by WalMart – even sleeping there at times in his vehicle. With that information, officers began looking for Nero in the area and located his Dodge Nitro behind the Kohl’s Department store in the 4000 block of Dowlen Road.
As officers approached the vehicle, Nero fled at a high rate of speed behind the store and traveled down Old Dowlen Road to Eastex Freeway. At that point Nero traveled south on Eastex at a high rate of speed and merged on Interstate 10 before exiting at College Street. Nero continued to stay ahead of the pursuing officers and turned onto Dowlen Road. Officers said Nero's red Dodge Nitro was traveling around 100 mph when he swerved into Hebert’s patrol car.
Officers said they believe the in-car video from Hebert's patrol car will confirm witness statements that Nero deliberately swerved into the patrol car. Additionally, marks on the roadway appear to show the Dodge Nitro was originally in the outside lane and that Nero took a hard left into the patrol car. Hebert, who was standing behind the car with his trunk open, likely never saw Nero’s vehicle as he was putting on his safety vest and getting prepared to deploy his spike strips. The impact of the crash caused Hebert’s patrol car to slam into him, knocking him backward about 50 feet. Officers were at the scene immediately and began performing CPR and other lifesaving techniques but Hebert did not appear to have a pulse. He was transported to St. Elizabeth’s Hospital where he was pronounced dead a short time after arriving.
Nero was injured and paramedics inserted a breathing tube into his chest for a collapsed lung, but his injuries did not appear life-threatening.
Hebert’s funeral arrangements are pending.