Charges dismissed against illegal migrant accused in the death of a St. Johns County Sheriff's Office deputy

ST. JOHNS COUNTY, FL - On Friday, March 1, the charges against 19-year-old Virgilio Aguilar Mendez, an illegal migrant, were dropped. Mendez was charged with aggravated manslaughter stemming from his involvement in the death of Sgt. Michael Kunovich of the St. Johns County Sheriff's Office (SCSO). 

According to Fox News, although the charges have been dropped, he remains in federal custody and is now facing deportation. His criminal defense attorney, Jose Baez, told the court that SCSO created "a false narrative" that Mendez "failed to follow instructions." 

He said that because Mendez primarily spoke Mam, a Guatemalan language, and since he was not competent in English, those issues constituted a disability. In a press conference following Mendez's dismissal, Baez said, "Culture that starts and ends with the sheriff, who not only doubled down and tripled down by creating a false narrative that this young man, who came in at 17, was someone who failed to follow instructions."

Baez added, "He says if he only followed instructions Kunovich would still be alive. I want to one day see him comply to orders given to him in Mam or Spanish and I would guarantee you that he would not comply. Then claim Vergilio Aguilar Mendez was going to use a knife, knowing that was a lie."

The incident, which happened back in May of 2023, reportedly involved a "scuffle" with Mendez and several law enforcement officers. Kunovich, who was 52-years-old at the time, collapsed from what has been described as "medical distress" during the encounter. Kunovich later died. 

According to reports from the sheriff's office, Kunovich initially approached Mendez suspecting him of a crime. Mendez allegedly walked away from the deputy and after being pursued by the officer, Mendez apologized in English. Mendez reportedly resisted the arrest and said that he was confused as he told the deputy, "I'm sorry, no speak, no speak English."

Other officers, some of whom spoke Spanish, did respond to the scene. At the time, Sheriff Robert Hardwick said that officers ultimately ended up using a taser on Mendez and then took him to the ground. The sheriff's office said that the deputies tried to restrain Mendez, but they said that he was resisting arrest. Hardwick said in a statement, "While fighting on the ground, the suspect attempted to grab Sergeant Kunovich's taser and continued to violently resist for approximately six minutes and 19 seconds."

A statement from the sheriff's office said, "Sergeant Kunovich collapsed moments after the subject was disarmed and relentless lifesaving measures were initiated by St. Johns County Fire Rescue and Flagler Health+ personnel. He was ultimately pronounced deceased shortly after transport to Flagler Hospital."

Baez claimed that his client was confused and was "unable to understand the brutality of the officers." He added, "Without question, Aguilar Mendez did not understand the purpose or reason for the officers to pile on him, to physically strike him multiple times, and the repeated use of a taser by Sgt. Kunovich."

A lawsuit filed states that Baez claims that Lt. Jose Jimenez, another responding officer, did not make Mendez "aware of his Miranda rights or attempt to obtain an interpreter for him." 

Following the dismissal, the 7th District State Attorney's Office said in a statement, "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 statement added, "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."

Kunovich was a 25-year veteran of the St. Johns County Sheriff's Office and Sheriff Hardwich describe him as a "valued member of the St. Johns County Office who passionately dedicated his career to keeping our community safe."
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The depth and breadth of corrupt BS in this article is simply STAGGERING!!


Wow...Such bs...The attorney should be put in jail...This illegal immigrant has been here 2 years and doesn't know english...I call bs on that...Deport him now.


WOW...been here 2 yrs and doesen't know ANY English? Sure it's the Sheriff's fault because he doesn't have a Deputy that speaks Mam. Agree with above posts/comments. The BS is STAGGERING!


Total BS excuse for dismissal of charges. You resist arrest, you suffer the consequences.


I like the watered down term...."illegal imagrant" Invading our Country alone should carry a death sentence..

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