NewsTeen Charged With Manslaughter After Cop Dies Of Heart Attack Post-Arrest

Teen Charged With Manslaughter After Cop Dies Of Heart Attack Post-Arrest

The report alleges that Aguilar-Mendez attempted to grab a taser and when that was unsuccessful, he got out a folding pocket knife.

A teenage Guatemalan migrant faces the possibility of being convicted on a manslaughter charge after a tussle with a Florida deputy ended with the deputy having a heart attack. According to the New York Post, 18-year-old Virgilio (also spelled Vergilio) Aguilar-Mendez obtained the services of a civil rights attorney who says that St. Johns County Sgt. Michael Kunovich was wrong to stop Aguilar-Mendez in the first place. Kunovich saw Aguilar-Mendez in the parking lot of a Super 8, where Aguilar-Mendez was living and working as a laborer at around 9 PM on May 16. An arrest report says that the laborer began walking away from the area once he saw an approaching police cruiser. Police say that the ask from Kunovich was a typical one.

According to St. Johns County Sheriff Robert Hardwick, Kunovich accused Aguilar-Mendez of a trespassing violation, saying during a November press conference, “He checked out with him to simply say ‘Hey, why are you on this property trespassing?’” Hardwick said.

“That was a simple thing, simple task.”

Kunovich proceeded to ask for his name and ID, to which Aguilar-Mendez responded, “Sorry, I no speak English.”

According to News 4 Jax, the St. Johns County Police Department has a 247 service available to its officers that they can call for a translator if they and a suspect do not speak the same language. When pressed on if Kunovich used this service, a spokesperson with the sheriff’s office informed News 4 Jax that because it is an ongoing investigation, they don’t have access to that particular information currently. 

Kunovich then spun Aguilar-Mendez around to perform a pat-down check for any concealed weapons. As he placed a hand on the pocket area of Aguilar-Mendez, the teenager appeared to try and pull away from the officer, which Aguilar-Mendez says was born from a fear of being deported. Kunovich responded to this by yelling at Aguilar-Mendez, “Don’t pull away from me.”

Aguilar-Mendez is apologetic but still tries to leave, at which point several officers arrive in an attempt to subdue him and begin to tase him, but Aguilar-Mendez resists, according to the police report. The report alleges that Aguilar-Mendez attempted to grab a taser and when that was unsuccessful, he got out a folding pocket knife.

“While fighting on the ground with Sergeant Kunovich and other deputies, the defendant grabbed Sergeant Kunovich’s taser in an attempt to gain control of the weapon,” the police report said.

“After gaining control of and placing the defendant in handcuffs, he armed himself with a folding pocket knife, which he retrieved from his shorts pockets. Deputies gave loud verbal commands to drop the knife, which were ignored and the knife had to be forcefully removed from the defendant’s hands.”

Once Aguilar-Mendez was in handcuffs, Kunovich collapsed and died at a local hospital from a heart attack. Due to Aguilar-Mendez’s alleged actions, he was charged with aggravated manslaughter of an officer and resisting arrest with violence. Aguilar-Mendez was not provided the ability to bond out, so he is still currently in jail. Aguilar-Mendez’s appointed public defender filed a motion for bail establishing that he was actually living at the motel with other workers and on the phone with his mother when Kunovich made his approach.

Phillip Arroyo, a graduate of Florida A&M’s Law School and Aguilar-Mendez’s new representation, told the Post that he believes the situation represents a violation of Aguilar-Mendez’s civil rights, saying that it was a grave injustice visited upon his client. Arroyo told News 4 Jax, “We believe this is a grave injustice for what seems to be so far an act of police brutality and potential civil rights violations.”

Arroyo continued, “But Hispanics in general, those who don’t speak English, are victims of police brutality or civil rights violations,” Arroyo said.

“And sometimes we never hear that story because of the language barrier. And I think that, in this scenario, it’s very important to shed light on what’s going on here.”

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Source: Black Enterprise


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