[Hpn] Officer fired over alleged coverups;1997 miami police shooting of homeless man

Morgan W. Brown morganbrown@hotmail.com
Wed, 11 Jul 2001 10:22:36 -0400


Below is a forward of an article regarding the firing of an a Miami police 
officer in connection with a coverup involving a 1997 police shooting of an 
unarmed homeless man.

Morgan <morganbrown@hotmail.com>
Morgan W. Brown
Montpelier Vermont

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-------Forwarded article-------

Wednesday, July 11, 2001
Miami Herald <http://www.miami.com/herald>
[Miami, Florida]
Local News section
Officer fired over alleged coverups
<http://www.miami.com/herald/content/news/local/dade/digdocs/003167.htm>

17-year veteran had troubled career

BY DAVID KIDWELL AND GAIL EPSTEIN NIEVES
dkidwell@herald.com


Jesus ``Jesse'' Aguero's perennially troubled career as a Miami police 
officer came to an end Tuesday when Chief Raul Martinez fired him amid a 
federal investigation of police misconduct and alleged coverups.

The 17-year veteran was dismissed on charges that he planted a gun at the 
scene of a police shooting of an unarmed homeless man in 1997, that he stole 
the throwdown gun in an earlier drug arrest, and that he lied about it to 
his colleagues investigating the shooting.

All are charges Aguero denies. A Dade County jury acquitted him on the gun 
planting charges earlier this year, and he's set to stand trial on the grand 
theft charge Oct. 15. He has been suspended with pay from the force since 
his arrest on May 22, 1998.

``I think it's disgraceful that the city of Miami Police Department would 
have so little sanctity for the jury's verdict,'' said Harry Solomon, 
Aguero's attorney. ``He ran the gauntlet of a trial in which his liberty was 
at stake -- not just his job but his freedom and they found him not guilty.

``That should be the end of it,'' Solomon said. ``They just don't want the 
facts to get in the way of what they want.''

Martinez's decision to fire Aguero, 38, after an 11 1/2 hour disciplinary 
review board hearing this month is far from final.

In fact, this is the fourth time that Aguero's bosses have recommended his 
termination.


56 COMPLAINTS

He's been the subject of 56 internal affairs complaints. He's been accused 
of lying under oath, raping a prostitute in his patrol car and helping to 
cover up the infamous 1988 police beating death of Wynwood crack dealer 
Leonardo Mercado.

He's fired 36 bullets at people in five different shootings, including at 
least two in which federal authorities suspect he or his fellow officers 
planted guns to cover up the fact that the victims were unarmed.

He's been criminally charged and acquitted twice before for his alleged 
misconduct on the job, and a federal grand jury is now probing Aguero and 
other officers suspected of coverups in questionable shootings.

``He should have been fired a long time ago,'' said Trudy Novicki, a state 
prosecutor handing the grand theft case against Aguero. ``I'm thrilled they 
fired him and I applaud the chief for doing it. There are some problems at 
that department and Jesse Aguero is a big part of them.''

Aguero's defenders say he's simply a good, aggressive officer who refused to 
back down from trouble.

``We knew they were going to fire him,'' said Al Cotera, president of the 
Miami chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police union and a longtime defender 
of Aguero. ``It was a foregone conclusion. Because Jesse attracts 'em like 
flies.

``Jesse is Jesse,'' Cotera said said. ``Let's face it, when you look at his 
personnel record he's been in hot water twice -- well, at least three 
times.''


FIRED BEFORE

Cotera said the union will continue to defend Aguero and appeal to the 
city's civil service board -- which overturned an Aguero firing once before.

The charges against Aguero stem from the June 26, 1997 shooting of Daniel 
Hoban in Coconut Grove.

Officers Jorge Castello and Rolando Jacobo came upon Hoban, who appeared to 
be pointing a gun at another man. They stopped their car and ordered Hoban 
to drop it. He didn't.

Castello shot him in the leg. The alleged gun turned out to be a Sony 
Walkman.

Two officers at the scene that night -- Dennis Williams and Jacobo, who did 
jail time for his role in the alleged cover up -- now say there was a 
conspiracy to plant a gun on Hoban.

Aguero, who was at police headquarters when the shooting occurred, was 
accused by state prosecutors of bringing a gun to the scene. His fingerprint 
was found on the gun. He argued successfully to the jury that he touched the 
gun after finding it on the scene more than 20 minutes after the shooting.

Prosecutors also say the gun was taken by Aguero from a drug suspect 
arrested several months before the Hoban shooting, a charge Aguero disputes. 
Aguero was acquitted of planting the gun. Two other officers, Oscar Ronda 
and Castello, still faces perjury charges in the coverup.


FEDERAL PROBE

More ominous for the Miami police is an ongoing federal grand jury probe of 
the Hoban shooting and others where authorities suspect misconduct and 
coverups.

Among them are two Aguero shootings:


The Nov. 7, 1995 shooting deaths of Antonio Young and Derrick Wiltshire, 
shot from behind by four officers -- including Aguero -- near the downtown 
Miami overpass of I-395.
The two had just committed a strong armed robbery using stones, and were 
shot running away. Aguero fired 21 of the 37 shots fired at the two. The 
officers say they were armed. Witnesses disagree. Miami police homicide and 
internal investigators cleared the officers.


Aguero's April 13, 1996 shooting at Steve J. Carter, who insisted he had no 
gun. Police claim he aimed a gun at Aguero, who fired three times and 
missed. Internal investigators say the gun found in the bushes was 
confiscated by officers in a drug raid five months earlier.

OTHERS INDICTED

The grand jury has already indicted five other officers in March on charges 
of fabricating evidence to cover up misconduct in the April 26, 1996 
shooting of 73-year-old drug dealer Richard Brown. Police sprayed 122 
bullets inside Brown's Miami apartment.

Chief Martinez, at the helm during ``difficult times'' for the department, 
said he hopes his recent actions help bolster confidence in the ``vast 
majority'' of his officers who do an exemplary job.

``This case has been dragging on now for five years, my goal now is to as 
quickly as possible put an end to it -- win or lose,'' Martinez said. ``I 
don't think any officer in this department has accumulated the record that 
Jesse Aguero has.''

A group of his peers -- including a major, a lieutenant and three officers 
-- has now found him guilty of these charges, and I feel strongly he should 
no longer be a Miami police officer.''


--[Sidebar]
JESUS AGUERO'S EMBATTLED CAREER
Sept. 10, 1984: Hired at age 21.

Jan. 14, 1987: ''Serious inconsistencies'' in Aguero's statements about a 
drug arrest and the alleged theft of cash from the suspect's home prompt 
judge to dismiss drug charges. Finding: Reprimand and loss of 80 hours 
earned overtime for misconduct.

June 24, 1988: Allegedly approaches prostitute who later says Aguero groped 
her and forced her to perform oral sex. Investigators find her name on a 
steno pad in Aguero's car and later match his DNA to semen on napkins the 
prostitute used to clean up. Then Chief Calvin Ross recommends termination, 
but is overruled by civil service board. Finding: Reprimand.

Feb. 14, 1990: Shoots at an armed robber suspect who is running away. Aguero 
and Ariel Rojas say they fired after the suspect pointed a gun. Suspect got 
away, and later arrested with gunshot wound to stomach. No gun was found.

Jan. 16, 1991: Makes an allegedly false statement to FBI agents 
investigating the Feb. 16, 1988, police beating death of Leonardo Mercado. 
Aguero is indicted for lying, and found not guilty at trial. Then Assistant 
Chief Raul Martinez recommends termination, but Chief Donald Warshaw 
suspends Aguero for 40 hours.

March 16, 1993: Puts NBC 6 cameraman shooting with reporter Ari Odzer in a 
chokehold and takes him to ground at a demonstration. Aguero said he was 
ordered to move the media off the street. Finding: Cleared.

April 24, 1992: Spots a suspicious car while walking his dog, retrieves gun 
from house, and the car accelerates toward him as he approaches. He fires 
three shots at it while backpedaling to avoid being run over. Finding: 
Justified.

Oct. 19, 1994: Takes extra ammunition at firearms training range and says 
that he took the extra ammo in case he fires his weapon and doesn't wish to 
report it. He also makes threatening comments about a sergeant. Finding: 
Reprimanded for improper procedure and discourtesy.

Dec. 8, 1995: Assistant church pastor allegedly is grabbed, choked and 
slammed against his car after a confrontation with Aguero in a traffic jam. 
Aguero denies incident, but two witnesses support the pastor's account. 
Finding: Inconclusive.

Sept. 5, 1996: Accused by supervisor of using racial slurs and profanity 
against a black supervisor who told him to stop wearing a black T-shirt in 
violation of uniform policy. Finding: Reprimand.

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**In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, this
material is distributed without charge or profit to
those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving
this type of information for non-profit research and
educational purposes only.**

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-------End of forward-------

Morgan <morganbrown@hotmail.com>
Morgan W. Brown
Montpelier Vermont USA



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