Migrant Accused Of Murdering Police Sergeant

A nineteen-year-old illegal immigrant from Guatemala was released from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention in May 2023 following charges of aggravated homicide of an officer during a confrontation involving multiple law enforcement personnel in Florida. 

Virgilio Aguilar Mendez’s actions lead to St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office Sergeant Michael Kunovich’s death.

Initially, Kunovich contacted Aguilar Mendez in response to “suspicious behavior.” Even the Spanish-speaking officers were hot on his trail as he tried to flee from the deputy. While the deputies wrestled and tased the migrant to the ground, he snagged a little pocketknife. The migrant’s attorneys are using Bodycam footage of the altercation captured by the police officers to prove their client’s linguistic and comprehension issues.

According to Jose Baez, Aguilar Mendez’s lawyer, his client was bewildered and could not comprehend why the police were piling on, hitting him many times, and using the Taser repeatedly. According to a complaint that Baez filed, another responding officer, Lt. Jose Jimenez, failed to inform Aguilar Mendez of his Miranda rights or seek an interpreter.

The 7th District State Attorney’s Office released a statement indicating their agreement. Having served for 25 years, Kunovich was praised as a cherished employee of the St. Johns County Office who fervently committed his career to maintaining the security of our community.

Baez, the attorney specializing in criminal defense, alleges that his client was the victim of racial profiling and that the sheriff’s office made an “unlawful arrest” of him. Even after being held in handcuffs, he resisted the police’s assertion that Aguilar Mendez had armed himself with a folding pocket knife in his pocket. The footage from his body camera, which ABC News analyzed, did not capture the exact moment he reportedly reached for the knife.

The St. Johns County sheriff justified Sgt. Kunovich’s conduct following the dismissal of charges.