One quiet, cool night in November 1995, a team of cops in unmarked cars carefully tailed four young black men around midtown. Near the North Miami Avenue ramp to I-395, they watched one man — a 19-year-old named Antonio Young — walk up to a car of tourists, smash a window with a brick, grab a purse, and run.
The cops sprang into action, plowing their unmarked vehicle into Young's and trapping the getaway driver on the ramp. As one robber disappeared into the bushes, Young and an accomplice, Derrick Wiltshire, leaped from the highway to the ground 20 feet below.
The four officers drew their guns and unleashed a flurry of at least 37 shots. One cop, a handsome Cuban-American named Jesus Aguero, fired 21 bullets. Eight rounds struck Young in the back and the head. Several more felled Wiltshire.
Then, with the help of other cops, Aguero planted guns on the teenagers' bodies and staged the scene. One officer later testified that Aguero knelt next to Young as he lay dying and said, "How does it feel to rob white people, nigger?"
The outburst of violence wasn't isolated — in fact, it was part of a vigilante campaign carried out for years by Aguero and his accomplices, a group of rogue cops nicknamed the Jump-Out Boys. By the time a federal jury convicted him of covering up the Young and Wiltshire killings, Aguero was well-known as one of the dirtiest cops in Miami history. He had been accused of raping a prostitute, stealing from suspects, and planting a gun on a homeless man mistakenly shot by police.
Despite his terrifying rap sheet, however, Aguero was barely punished. And after serving a scant 19 months in prison, he is now accused of again breaking the laws he was once supposed to enforce. A state charity for low-income students believes Aguero defrauded it of up to $25,000, and even his fellow officers have begun turning on him, alleging that his construction business — which he runs with another cop convicted in the same federal case — performs shoddy and shady work.
"These officers used to come onto the scene like sharks in a feeding frenzy," says Jeffrey A. Jacobs, an attorney who sued the City of Miami over Young's wrongful death. "I would hope that going to jail would help to change someone like Aguero. At least that's what supposed to happen in our system."
Aguero refused to speak to New Times about most of the new accusations. "It's none of your business," he said.
Jesus "Jesse" Aguero joined the Miami Police Department in 1984 at the age of 21. It was the height of the Cocaine Cowboys era, and the city was brimming with drugs and Marielitos released from Castro's jails. It didn't take Aguero long to lose his way in the fray. In January 1987, just two and a half years after he was hired, Aguero was accused of stealing $4,000 from a suspect in a drug case. Serious inconsistencies in Aguero's statements led prosecutors to dismiss charges against the suspect. The cop was never charged, but he was officially reprimanded.
The complaints kept coming, though. Over the next decade, Aguero's supervisors would recommend five times that he be fired, only for him to successfully fight each case. Among the allegations:
• On June 24, 1988, a prostitute accused Aguero of forcing her to perform oral sex in his squad car. Investigators found his semen on Dairy Queen napkins she had used to clean up. Despite the DNA evidence, prosecutors dropped the charges.
• Less than six months later, Aguero was one of six cops implicated in the death of Leonardo Mercado. Officers claimed the drug dealer pulled a knife on them, but his badly beaten body was covered in 44 bruises and cuts, including sneaker prints. Aguero was later indicted for lying to the FBI, but a jury acquitted him. He was suspended, however, for cutting another officer's shirt to make it look like he had been attacked by Mercado.
• In January 1989, a witness accused Aguero of planting a gun on a man shot by cops in Liberty City. He was never charged.
After Young's and Wiltshire's deaths in 1995, two surviving robbers swore that none of them was armed beyond the brick Young had used to bash in a window, and that the cops had opened fire for no reason. But it would take another, even more brazen shooting and coverup to spur a full investigation.
On June 26, 1997, two Miami cops spotted a homeless man named Daniel Hoban in Coconut Grove looming over a friend with what looked like a gun. The officers opened fire, but panicked when they realized Hoban was brandishing only a Sony Walkman. The cops called Aguero, who arrived with a .45-caliber pistol that he planted at the scene, according to prosecutors. His fingerprint was found on the gun, which was linked to an earlier drug arrest. Amazingly, a jury again acquitted Aguero.