[Hpn] Miami's 'Teflon cop' fired for planting gun on suspect

Morgan W. Brown morganbrown@hotmail.com
Wed, 11 Jul 2001 17:20:27 -0400


Note: Recipient list undisclosed

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

This article provides additional information about the actual shooting, the 
cover-up, the shooting victim - whom a gun was planted upon, and others 
involved which may be of interest.

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

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

Wednesday, July 11, 2001
South Florida Sun-Sentinel <http://www.sun-sentinel.com>
[Florida]
Local News section
Miami's 'Teflon cop' fired for planting gun on suspect
<http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/local/miami/sfl-dteflon11jul11.story?coll=sfla%2Dnews%2Dmiami>

By José Dante Parra Herrera
Miami Bureau
Posted July 11 2001

MIAMI· If there ever was a Teflon cop, Miami Police Officer Jesus "Jesse" 
Agüero was it.

He has been criminally indicted twice, and twice he has been acquitted. His 
personnel records show dozens of citizen complaints, yet he managed to work 
his way to elite units in the department. He was even fired once for 
allegedly sexually assaulting a prostitute, but the city's Civil Service 
Board reinstated him.

On Tuesday, Agüero was fired for the second time.

This time, prosecutors and the top brass at the department hope it is for 
good. Agüero, a 16-year veteran, was accused of planting a gun on a homeless 
man in Coconut Grove in 1997 after one of his colleagues
shot the man in the leg. The man was unarmed. Agüero was accused of stealing 
the gun from a suspect his unit arrested during a drug raid months earlier.

"This is not a message for the good officers in the department who are the 
vast majority, but for those few bad officers, whoever they are, that this 
[behavior] will not be tolerated," said Miami Police Chief Raul Martinez.

Agüero, 38, could not be reached for comment, but his lawyer, Harry Solomon, 
pointed out that a Miami-Dade County jury acquitted his client this year on 
charges that he planted the gun. Two other
officers involved won on a mistrial, but Agüero is expected back in court in 
October on charges that he stole the gun.

In addition to that court date, a federal grand jury is investigating the 
Coconut Grove case, dubbed the "Grove Throw Down," along with at least five 
other shootings in which officers are suspected of planting
guns or manipulating evidence to justify shootings.

Agüero is at the center of another of those shootings, which happened on the 
Interstate 395 extension connecting Interstate 95 with Miami Beach in 1995. 
In that case, Agüero and other officers shot two
robbery suspects in the back. He told investigators one of the suspects was 
facing him and pointing a gun at him. Agüero fired 22 times. But the 
Miami-Dade medical examiner ruled the suspect was shot in the back, and at 
least one of the guns found on the suspects wouldn't fire.

"I've talked with a lot of guys in different ranks, and they feel it is time 
to let him go," said Capt. Miguel Exposito, who investigated Agüero in the 
prostitute case.

With that case in 1988, Agüero's troubles began gaining notoriety in the 
department. He allegedly picked up the prostitute on Biscayne Boulevard and 
forced her perform sexual acts on him. The prostitute
identified Agüero and Internal Affairs investigators found napkins 
containing seminal fluid that later matched Agüero's DNA. Because of that 
case, then-Police Chief Calvin Ross fired Agüero in 1992. But
the following year the city's Civil Service Board gave Agüero his job back, 
and he was assigned to the elite Crime Suppression Team.

As that case was winding through the system, in late 1988 several Miami 
police officers beat to death suspected drug dealer Leonardo Mercado in the 
Wynwood neighborhood. Agüero allegedly became
involved in the cover-up to justify the death. At one point, Agüero wrote 
the name of a homicide investigator in the Mercado case on a cardboard piece 
and used it as a target in the firing range, records
show.

A federal grand jury eventually indicted several officers, including Agüero, 
who was charged with obstruction of justice, intimidating witnesses and 
giving false statements. In 1994, a federal jury acquitted him.

But that did not end his troubles. The case that got him fired Tuesday took 
place two years later as a team of officers was coming back from a drug 
sting in Coconut Grove.

Officers Oscar Ronda and Rolando Jacobo were driving along Grand Avenue when 
they saw a homeless man standing over another man and pointing something at 
him. Ronda jumped out of the car and pulled                   his gun, 
screaming at Daniel Hoban, the homeless man, to drop it. Ronda suddenly 
fired, hitting Hoban on the leg, court records show.

When Hoban's supposed victim realized what happened, he screamed: "You shot 
my friend."

Hoban had a Walkman, not a gun, in his hands.

The next few frantic moments have become fodder for the media as panicking 
officers asked for "the sock," police slang for a throw-down gun. The 
officer who allegedly came through was Agüero, who drove
the gun to the scene from the department. Other officers formed a human 
shield around him so investigators a few yards away would not see as Agüero 
placed the gun on the ground, and Jacobo kicked it under a car, Jacobo said.

Another officer was charged with getting rid of the Walkman.

But Hoban and the victim claimed he did not have a gun. Fire-rescue 
personnel also said they did not see a gun, only headphones hanging around 
his neck. Other witnesses also claimed they never saw a gun,
and the case began unraveling.

Jacobo was eventually convicted on perjury charges and sentenced to one 
year. While in jail, he decided to testify against Agüero. Despite that, 
Agüero was acquitted this year in state court.

Martinez said the standard of guilt is higher in criminal court than in an 
administrative process. He said there was more than enough evidence to fire 
Agüero, and a panel of officers who reviewed the case
agreed.

Trudy Novicki, chief assistant state attorney for special prosecutions, said 
while Martinez's decision does not help her in the upcoming trial against 
Agüero, she is very pleased with the decision.

"It's great news," she said. "He was a real blemish on the department."

But Solomon, Agüero's lawyer, thinks the firing is almost tantamount to 
double jeopardy.

"The man was acquitted by a jury of his peers," Solomon said. "I don't know 
why we have a judicial system if we don't abide by its findings."


José Dante Parra Herrera can be reached at jparra@sun-sentinel.com or 
305-810-5005.

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**In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, this
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those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving
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-------End of forward-------

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


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