Dash cam video released by the Fairfax County Police Department confirms an officer was not at fault when he struck and killed a pedestrian in April.
Jeff Aguilar, a popular employee at a Kingstowne-area sports bar, was walking home after 11 p.m. April 2, a stormy Saturday night, when the police cruiser hit him.
The video shows poor visibility as the officer turned on to Beulah Street, the light ahead was green and he had the right of way when the 26-year-old victim suddenly appeared in his path.
“Shortly after he makes the turn, the pedestrian seemed to come out of nowhere,” said Tawny Wright of Fairfax County Police. “As soon as that happened, the officer stops. He immediately exited, called for an ambulance, rendered aid to the pedestrian.”
Two weeks ago, Commonwealth's Attorney Raymond F. Morrogh announced the officer did not bear any criminal responsibility, calling it an unfortunate accident. The officer is back on duty.
The video was released as part of the department's effort to be more transparent, which Chief Ed Roessler promised after a failure to reveal details about the fatal 2013 police shooting of John Geer led to years of criticism and the formation of a special commission.
Adam Choi, a friend and coworker of Aguilar, said he doesn't think the video should be made public.
"I don't believe footage of that type of material, that explicit, should be shown to the public," he said. "I don't want to see the footage."
The release of sensitive video will be made on a case-by-case basis, a department spokeswoman said. In this instance, both the victim's family and the officer were offered the chance to see the video first.
“It's kind of a fine line that we walk, because we want to share as much as possible," Wright said. "We don't want to offend anyone but we don’t want to be seen as withholding anything, either.”
The department also started releasing the names of officers involved in fatal or near-fatal incidents and did so in this case.
The group Northern Virginia Cop Block has been one of the department's harshest critics, pushing for full transparency. Founder Mike Curtis said releasing the accident video is a step forward but doesn't go far enough.
“I really wish that they keep going this way and increasing the amount of transparency, maybe releasing the rest of this video,” Curtis said. “I'd like to hear -- they said he called immediately for help -- I'd like to hear that audio. I'd like to see why they stopped the video off.”