Illegal Immigrant Accused Of Killing Police Sergeant Released

Virgilio Aguilar Mendez, a Guatemalan illegal immigrant accused of killing a police sergeant in St. Johns County, FL has been released from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody.

Mendez was charged with aggravated manslaughter after a scuffle between himself and numerous police officers ended with the death of St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Michael Kunovich. Those charges were dropped last month.

According to the St. Johns County Sheriff’s office, Kunovich approached Mendez around 9 p.m. on May 19 of last year after suspecting him of a crime. When approached, Mendez did not stop and while Kunovich pursued him he apologized in English saying “I’m sorry, no speak, no speak English.”

At this point, other deputies responded, including some who spoke Spanish, and Mendez still did not comply. The deputies tased Mendez and tackled him to the ground where they eventually handcuffed him. At this point, Mendez got access to his pocket knife though it is not clear whether or not he attempted to use it.

Mendez was taken away in a police car, and Kunovich suffered a heart attack because of “medical distress” as a result of the incident. He was removed from the scene in an ambulance and later died.

Mendez’s attorney, Jose Baez, argued that his client was confused and did not understand what was happening. He also filed a lawsuit stating that another responding officer did not make Mendez aware of his Miranda rights or attempt to obtain an interpreter for him.

“Recent expert testimony regarding the defendant’s inability to comprehend the English language, his cultural background and concerns about his intellectual capacity have raised significant issues to consider in the case,” the state attorney’s office said.

“Furthermore, based on the court’s recent ruling that the defendant is incompetent to proceed based on that expert testimony, dismissal of the charges is appropriate. Arrest and time served is sufficient.”

Mendez left the courtroom smiling with no visible signs of remorse for his involvement in the death of the long-time officer.

“There have been attempts by some to portray Aguilar Mendez as a victim and vilify Sergeant Kunovich. I continue to stand behind Sergeant Kunovich’s actions on the night of May 19, 2023,” St. Johns County Sheriff Rob Hardwick said in a statement.

“The danger associated with law enforcement is a risk we assume when we enter this profession. Sergeant Kunovich died a hero protecting the citizens of St. Johns County and there is nothing more noble than that. Please continue to hold our agency and Sergeant Kunovich’s family in your thoughts and prayers.”

Kunovich served and protected St. Johns County for 25 years before his death.