Updated: Alleged police car thief’s bail at $500K

Kenneth Michael Aguero, 31

The man accused of stealing a police cruiser and nearly running
down an officer will enter a plea Tuesday.
The man accused of stealing a police cruiser and nearly running down an officer will enter a plea Tuesday.

Sunday evening, Kenneth Michael Aguero, 31, stole a police cruiser, tried to steal police guns, almost ran over an officer and resisted arrest despite the use of pepper spray, an electronic stun gun, hits from a police baton and gunfire, police said. Aguero faces felony charges of attempted theft or unauthorized use of a vehicle, theft or unauthorized use of a police or fire vehicle, assault with a deadly weapon, resisting arrest, and interfering with an animal used by police. Aguero is currently in custody and faces up to 13 years and 4 months in prison if convicted of all charges. His bail was set at $500,000.

Aguero appeared calm and almost casual Wednesday afternoon as he entered the courtroom for his arraignment in a red jumpsuit typical of maximum security inmates. He had short hair and a husky, muscular frame. He glanced at least once at his mother, who sat in the audience.

Deputy District Attorney Vishal Bathija pushed for Aguero’s bail to be raised to $1 million because he had tried to use a vehicle in a past assault. Aguero served time in county jail in 2005 after being convicted of felony hit and run and assault with a deadly weapon. However, Superior Court Judge Jacqueline Arroyo decided against raising bail, saying that all that information was at the magistrate’s disposal when determining Aguero’s bail. Aguero’s demeanor became slightly more somber as the deputy district attorney and judge discussed increasing his bail.

Some time before 4:45 p.m. Sunday, Aguero showed up at Marx Towing, 5757 Obata Way in southeast Gilroy, to retrieve his 2003 Chevrolet Impala, which had been towed Jan. 20 because it was blocking Trailblazer Way in northwest Gilroy, police and sources said.

The towing company was closed Sunday, but a few Marx Towing employees happened to be there, said owner Frank La Corte, who heard second-hand reports of the incident from his staff. Aguero became angry when Marx Towing employees said he could not get his vehicle without “proper authorization or paperwork” and bullied his way into the tow yard, where the gate was open, La Corte and police said.

At 4:43 p.m., employees called police because they were worried about how incensed Aguero was, police said.

Aguero even threatened to drive his Impala through the gate, but the car’s battery was dead, La Corte said.

“The guy wouldn’t take no for an answer,” La Corte said.

When police showed up several minutes later, the suspect was inside a secured area of the business without permission, police said.

Police ordered Aguero to stop and tried to arrest him, but Aguero would not comply, police said. Police attempted to subdue him using – in order – pepper spray, an electronic stun gun and blows from a police baton, police said. These measures had no effect, police said.

It is unclear whether Aguero was on drugs at the time of the incident, but the Santa Clara County crime lab is conducting a blood test to determine whether he was, Sgt. Jim Gillio said. Toxicology results, which were not yet available, will be forwarded on to the District Attorney’s Office, he said.

After escaping officers, Aguero ran to a nearby police vehicle and tried to remove the guns that were locked inside with a key, Gillio said.

While police attempted to persuade Aguero to get out of the vehicle, he jammed the vehicle into reverse and sped backwards, almost hitting an officer with the vehicle, police said.

Sgt. Chad Gallacinao and Officer Diana Mora, two of the 14 officers that responded Sunday night, fired multiple times at Aguero as he tried to drive away in the patrol car, police said. Aguero crashed the car in a grassy area across the street from Marx Towing, Gillio said.

Police again tried to get Aguero out of the vehicle, but he did not follow orders and instead tried again to take the locked guns from the patrol car, police said. Police continued to try to negotiate with Aguero, but eventually released a police dog on Aguero. Between the dog and more officers, Aguero was arrested, police said. He was taken to a local, unspecified hospital to be treated for “moderate” puncture wounds from the police dog and from baton strikes, police said.

A couple of residents wrote on the Gilroy Dispatch comment board that they overheard a person on a police radio they believed to be an officer say that he had been shot and that he thought he was going to die. Gillio stressed that no officers had been shot or injured.

Gillio did say that Aguero had used a police radio, but he would not say what Aguero said over the radio because police were still interviewing witnesses and police did not want the witnesses to be influenced by the audio tape. The Dispatch submitted a public records request seeking the audio tapes of that radio activity. Police denied that request Thursday.

Marx Towing did not have a video recording of the incident.

Gallacinao and Mora were placed on administrative leave this week. Gallacinao is a 15-year law enforcement veteran who has worked for the Gilroy Police Department since 1997. Mora has worked for the department for more than six years. Neither of them had previously discharged a firearm while on duty, Gillio said.

The officers will not be back on duty until they are ready and until police feel comfortable with their actions based on preliminary investigations, he said.

Administrative investigations are standard any time an officer fires a weapon, Gillio said. He estimated an administrative investigation could take 30 to 60 days.

However, both Gallacinao and Mora could be back on duty before the administrative investigation is complete if police interviews do not reveal any obvious sign of illegal activities or problems on their part, Gillio said.

The last time an officer had to fire a gun was Sept. 16, when two alleged Norteño gang members sped toward an officer on the 100 block of Ronan Avenue. Although the officer managed to dodge the vehicle, officer Randy Bentson fired his gun to defend his colleague. In February 2008, officer Eustaquio “Paco” Rodriguez shot and killed Gurmit Singh, 33, on Route 152, after Singh attacked him. Singh died several hours later from a gunshot wound to the abdomen. Before these incidents, the last time an officer had to fire a gun was in 2000, Gillio said.

“Within the city of Gilroy, it’s really infrequent,” he said.

Aguero is scheduled to make a plea 1:30 p.m. Tuesday at the South County Courthouse in Morgan Hill.

Reporter Jonathan Partridge contributed to this article.Kenneth Aguero faces more than 13 years in prison; two officers put on routine leave

Sara Suddes – Staff Writer

[email protected]

Gilroy

The man accused of stealing a police cruiser and nearly running down an officer will enter a plea Tuesday.

Sunday evening, Kenneth Michael Aguero, 31, stole a police cruiser, tried to steal police guns, almost ran over an officer and resisted arrest despite the use of pepper spray, an electronic stun gun, hits from a police baton and gunfire, police said. Aguero faces felony charges of attempted theft or unauthorized use of a vehicle, theft or unauthorized use of a police or fire vehicle, assault with a deadly weapon, resisting arrest, and interfering with an animal used by police. Aguero is currently in custody and faces up to 13 years and 4 months in prison if convicted of all charges. His bail was set at $500,000.

Aguero appeared calm and almost casual Wednesday afternoon as he entered the courtroom for his arraignment in a red jumpsuit typical of maximum security inmates. He had short hair and a husky, muscular frame. He glanced at least once at his mother, who sat in the audience.

Deputy District Attorney Vishal Bathija pushed for Aguero’s bail to be raised to $1 million because he had tried to use a vehicle in a past assault. Aguero served time in county jail in 2005 after being convicted of felony hit and run and assault with a deadly weapon. However, Superior Court Judge Jacqueline Arroyo decided against raising bail, saying that all that information was at the magistrate’s disposal when determining Aguero’s bail. Aguero’s demeanor became slightly more somber as the deputy district attorney and judge discussed increasing his bail.

Some time before 4:45 p.m. Sunday, Aguero showed up at Marx Towing, 5757 Obata Way in southeast Gilroy, to retrieve his 2003 Chevrolet Impala, which had been towed Jan. 20 because it was blocking Trailblazer Way in northwest Gilroy, police and sources said.

The towing company was closed Sunday, but a few Marx Towing employees happened to be there, said owner Frank La Corte, who heard second-hand reports of the incident from his staff. Aguero became angry when Marx Towing employees said he could not get his vehicle without “proper authorization or paperwork” and bullied his way into the tow yard, where the gate was open, La Corte and police said.

At 4:43 p.m., employees called police because they were worried about how incensed Aguero was, police said.

Aguero even threatened to drive his Impala through the gate, but the car’s battery was dead, La Corte said.

“The guy wouldn’t take no for an answer,” La Corte said.

When police showed up several minutes later, the suspect was inside a secured area of the business without permission, police said.

Police ordered Aguero to stop and tried to arrest him, but Aguero would not comply, police said. Police attempted to subdue him using – in order – pepper spray, an electronic stun gun and blows from a police baton, police said. These measures had no effect, police said.

It is unclear whether Aguero was on drugs at the time of the incident, but the Santa Clara County crime lab is conducting a blood test to determine whether he was, Sgt. Jim Gillio said. Toxicology results, which were not yet available, will be forwarded on to the District Attorney’s Office, he said.

After escaping officers, Aguero ran to a nearby police vehicle and tried to remove the guns that were locked inside with a key, Gillio said.

While police attempted to persuade Aguero to get out of the vehicle, he jammed the vehicle into reverse and sped backwards, almost hitting an officer with the vehicle, police said.

Sgt. Chad Gallacinao and Officer Diana Mora, two of the 14 officers that responded Sunday night, fired multiple times at Aguero as he tried to drive away in the patrol car, police said. Aguero crashed the car in a grassy area across the street from Marx Towing, Gillio said.

Police again tried to get Aguero out of the vehicle, but he did not follow orders and instead tried again to take the locked guns from the patrol car, police said. Police continued to try to negotiate with Aguero, but eventually released a police dog on Aguero. Between the dog and more officers, Aguero was arrested, police said. He was taken to a local, unspecified hospital to be treated for “moderate” puncture wounds from the police dog and from baton strikes, police said.

A couple of residents wrote on the Gilroy Dispatch comment board that they overheard a person on a police radio they believed to be an officer say that he had been shot and that he thought he was going to die. Gillio stressed that no officers had been shot or injured.

Gillio did say that Aguero had used a police radio, but he would not say what Aguero said over the radio because police were still interviewing witnesses and police did not want the witnesses to be influenced by the audio tape. The Dispatch submitted a public records request seeking the audio tapes of that radio activity. Police denied that request Thursday.

Marx Towing did not have a video recording of the incident.

Gallacinao and Mora were placed on administrative leave this week. Gallacinao is a 15-year law enforcement veteran who has worked for the Gilroy Police Department since 1997. Mora has worked for the department for more than six years. Neither of them had previously discharged a firearm while on duty, Gillio said.

The officers will not be back on duty until they are ready and until police feel comfortable with their actions based on preliminary investigations, he said.

Administrative investigations are standard any time an officer fires a weapon, Gillio said. He estimated an administrative investigation could take 30 to 60 days.

However, both Gallacinao and Mora could be back on duty before the administrative investigation is complete if police interviews do not reveal any obvious sign of illegal activities or problems on their part, Gillio said.

The last time an officer had to fire a gun was Sept. 16, when two alleged Norteño gang members sped toward an officer on the 100 block of Ronan Avenue. Although the officer managed to dodge the vehicle, officer Randy Bentson fired his gun to defend his colleague. In February 2008, officer Eustaquio “Paco” Rodriguez shot and killed Gurmit Singh, 33, on Route 152, after Singh attacked him. Singh died several hours later from a gunshot wound to the abdomen. Before these incidents, the last time an officer had to fire a gun was in 2000, Gillio said.

“Within the city of Gilroy, it’s really infrequent,” he said.

Aguero is scheduled to make a plea 1:30 p.m. Tuesday at the South County Courthouse in Morgan Hill.

Reporter Jonathan Partridge contributed to this article.

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