A Gilroy man who allegedly stole a police car and tried to use
it as a weapon against police sought to dismiss his public defender
in court on Tuesday. After the hearing, his mother told the
Dispatch that she believed he was bipolar and needed to be
evaluated by a psychiatrist.
A Gilroy man who allegedly stole a police car and tried to use it as a weapon against police sought to dismiss his public defender in court on Tuesday. After the hearing, his mother told the Dispatch that she believed he was bipolar and needed to be evaluated by a psychiatrist.
Kenneth Michael Aguero, 31, told public defender Michelle Vasquez that he no longer wanted her to represent him after she prevented him from entering a plea during Tuesday’s hearing.
“I want to fire and dismiss my attorney,” he told Judge Ronald I. Toff during the hearing at the South County Courthouse.
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 or deterring arrest and interfering with an animal used by police. He is in Santa Clara County Jail on $500,000 bail.
Vasquez told Toff that she and deputy district attorney Vishal Bathija had planned for Aguero to enter a plea May 20. However, Aguero said he was denying the request of the district attorney and the public defender, although Toff made it clear he could not do so.
“I want to enter a plea,” Aguero said. “It’s OK. Thank you.”
Aguero’s mother, Jeanette Dominguez, expressed frustration with Vasquez and the public defender’s office in general after Tuesday’s hearing. She believes her son is bipolar, and she wants the public defender to have his mental health evaluated, but that has not happened, she said.
Vasquez could not be reached for comment by phone Tuesday.
Aguero allegedly stole a police car and almost ran over an officer with it Jan. 24 after trying to take his Chevrolet Impala from Marx Towing on Obata Way. Police failed to subdue him with pepper spray, an electronic stun gun, police baton strikes and gunfire, according to court documents. They ultimately subdued him with the help of a police dog.
His mother said Tuesday that her son has had mental issues for some time.
While he has never been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, he has several symptoms of mental problems, she said. For instance, he used to talk with someone in his bedroom when no one was there and would always cover the windows of his room because believed someone was on the other side of the window.
“To me, he was in his own world,” she said.
That world became increasingly troublesome as Aguero began using methamphetamine, Dominguez said.
She eventually took her house key away from her son, but he would break the windows in back of the house to get inside instead, she said. At one point, he took apart the heater inside the house, telling his mother that “mercury is bad for you,” she said.
The situation deteriorated to the point where she temporarily moved into a hotel because she could not live by herself and him around, she said. While she was gone, neighbors would hear the sounds of items being broken, she said. Aguero would gut locks out of doors that were locked and break tiles and lamps inside the house, she said.
Aguero wrote letters to her, but she could not understand them, Dominguez said.
Aguero also has a past criminal past, having served time in county jail in 2005 after being convicted of felony hit and run and assault with a deadly weapon, according to court records.
Aguero contends that he rushed inside the police car to protect himself because he was being beaten by police, Dominguez said. Some of his wounds from the Jan. 24 incident have since become infected, and no one has done anything about it, she said.
Police stated in court documents that Aguero was clearly being aggressive at the time, complying with police’s orders one second and then flailing his arms, scuffling with officers and showing defiance the next. Once he was in the police car, he tried to get an AR-15 assault rifle that was locked inside the vehicle to, as he phrased it, “hold (officers) back,” according to court documents.
In addition, an officer said he heard someone – later determined likely to be Aguero – make comments on the police radio such as, “I am shot; they are shooting me, Mom … help, I am shot.”
Dominguez said she is displeased with Aguero’s representation in the case.
Aguero’s public defender laughed over the phone when Dominguez said Aguero had mental problems, Dominguez said. However, Dominguez said it is not a laughing matter.
A mental health expert asked Aguero some questions while he was in jail, Dominguez said, but she heard that her son either did not answer the questions or answered them in question form.
She stressed that she believes her son needs to be evaluated.
“I don’t think he’s capable of representing himself,” she said.