Birmingham, AL -- In May, officer Daniel Aguirre was given a Combat Cross Medal after he said in a police report that he successfully fended off a struggle in which he and his partner were in danger.
According to the police report, Aguirre began to struggle with a man named Aubrey Williams who pulled a gun and pointed it at his partner officer Richard Haluska. When he ordered the man to drop his gun, the suspect then pointed his gun at Aguirre. Aguirre fired and struck the suspect.
Newspapers reported on it, and the local media hailed Aguirre as a hero. However, the dashcam video of the incident was released this week which contradicts Aquirre's claims.
On April 24, 2014, Aguirre and Haluska were in search of suspects involved in a robbery when they encountered Aubrey Williams and Devon Brown. That much of the story is true.
But the dashcam video shows what really happened after the encounter. A struggle ensued and Haluska had Brown under control when Aquirre approached Williams, who was on his hands and knees.
The video begins with one officer – identified as Haluska - sitting on top of, and handcuffing, one suspect who had been tased in an alley in East Lake. The other officer – identified as Daniel Aguirre - drops what appears to be a taser from his left hand, and then approaches Williams who is on his hands and knees.
Aguirre has a pistol in his right hand. As Williams falls back, Aguirre steps backward and fires twice. Aguirre then steps over and kicks a sack and gun away from Williams.
Williams wasn't pointing the gun at anyone, and the department had to have known this, but they gave him the award anyway.
The dashcam was leaked to AL.com from a confidential source inside the department. After it had been posted on their website this week, the department had no choice but to issue a statement saying they are taking back the award.
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"In regards to the officer involved shooting that took place on April 24, 2014, the award is rescinded until further review by the Awards Committee," said Officer Lt. Sean Edwards at 10:57 p.m. Tuesday.
Of course, this situation was dangerous and stressful, but why lie about it?
Many people will watch the video and note that they may do the same thing if they were in Aguirre's shoes, and they may be right. But it still doesn't justify the cop lying about it and getting an award.
Instead of an award ceremony, there should have been an investigation. A man was shot twice as he was laying on the ground, and there was video showing that he may not have been an actual threat to the officers at the time. At the very least, an inquiry by the department was warranted.....but that never happened.
Instead, a police department knowingly went along with a false narrative and perpetuated a lie.
"This video provides evidence that Police Officer Daniel Aguirre shot Aubrey Williams twice despite the fact that Williams was on his hands and knees and not in a position to fire a weapon," Frank James Matthews of the Outcast Voters League said in a statement Tuesday night. "It is clear that the Birmingham Police Department attempted to prevent the release of this footage, and it seems that Officer Aguirre's actions were rewarded based on outright lies."