Illegal Guatemalan Migrant Dismissed After Charged In Officer’s Death

A Guatemalan illegal migrant is now free from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody after charges involving the death of a police officer last year were dropped.

Virgilio Aguilar Mendez, 19, was involved in a scuffle with several officers last May. During the struggle, St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Michael Kunovich collapsed and later died.

Mendez was charged with aggravated manslaughter of an officer, but all counts against him were dropped last month. One of his attorneys, Phillip Arroyo, posted a video on TikTok Friday of the illegal migrant’s release from ICE detention.

The teenager is seen smiling as he and his attorney approach the camera. Arroyo captioned the footage in Spanish with “Virgilio Aguilar finally FREE! God is great.”

His freedom came 10 months after the struggle with Kunovich. The officer approached Aguilar Mendez on the sidewalk to question the then-18-year-old, but the young man walked away.

Aguilar Mendez apologized in English before stating that he did not speak the language. He continued to resist arrest and other law enforcement officers intervened, ultimately tasing the suspect and tackling him.

Deputies, including Spanish speaking officers, joined in the attempt to subdue the suspect. At some point Aguilar Mendez produced a small pocketknife, though it is unclear if he attempted to use the weapon.

Kunovich collapsed during the struggle due to what was described as “medical distress.” The 25-year veteran of the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office succumbed to a heart attack.

Attorney Jose Baez defended his client by claiming his lack of English skills left him unable to comprehend the orders he was given.

Baez also filed a lawsuit over his assertion that Aguilar Mendez was not made aware of his Miranda rights.

Then came a surprising statement from the 7th District State Attorney’s Office. “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.”

The statement recognized a recent court ruling that Aguilar Mendez is “incompetent to proceed.” It concluded by revealing that “dismissal of the charges is appropriate.”