Disgraced former Cook County deputy Alberto Aguirre allegedly admitted to drinking “three to four beers” before crashing into an SUV at a stoplight in February 2012.
And the mother of his then-14-year-old daughter is alleged to have told Chicago Police that the girl had been in his vehicle at the time of the crash.
But, ultimately, Judge Shelley Sutker-Dermer ruled Tuesday that prosecutors hadn’t met the burden of proof to convict Aguirre of felony child endangerment and aggravated drunken driving charges.
When Aguirre’s bench trial continues later this month, the best prosecutors can do is secure a felony conviction for driving on a license that was revoked more than 20 years ago.
The 57-year-old former deputy showed little emotion after the ruling. But Aguirre — who has two previous DUI convictions — later told deputies in the Skokie courtroom, “Sorry to keep you guys here,” after proceedings stretched into the late afternoon.
That’s the same courthouse where Aguirre, who was stripped of his police power after the crash, worked until recently. He continues to collect his $70,500-a-year salary handing out radios at the juvenile courthouse, Sheriff Tom Dart’s office said Tuesday.
Cara Smith, executive director of the Cook County Jail and a top aide to the sheriff, said Dart still hopes to fire Aguirre. She said Tuesday’s ruling would not stop a formal complaint that Dart’s office has filed against Aguirre, seeking his dismissal.
“He will not be re-deputized. He will not be returned to Skokie,” Smith said.
On the night of the crash, which occurred at Pulaski and Berteau in the Irving Park neighborhood, Aguirre allegedly offered to pay the driver of the SUV if he did not call the police, according to a complaint brought against him by Dart’s Office of Professional Review.
Later, Aguirre refused roadside sobriety and Breathalyzer tests after officers showed up at the scene, his arresting officer said in court. But Officer Kimberly Zalinski testified that Aguirre did not smell strongly of alcohol and his eyes were only a little bloodshot.
Aguirre’s attorney, Steven Goldman, asked Zalinski if Aguirre had difficulty walking or talking. Zalinski responded, “No sir.”
Additionally, evidence suggesting that Aguirre’s daughter was in the car was not allowed. The driver of the SUV said a young child was in the car, and the mother of Aguirre’s child later told police the child had been in the car. But because the child was not at the scene of the accident when officers arrived to investigate, her presence could not be proved, Goldman explained.