UPPER MARLBORO – An 11-year veteran of the Prince George's County Police Department who was convicted in May of second-degree assault (a misdemeanor) for striking a 22-year-old man as he fled from police was sentenced to two years supervised probation and 100 hours of community service.
On July 28, Circuit Court Judge Ingrid Turner said Officer Juan Hernandez had misused his power as a police officer.
Hernandez was responding to a call for an armed person on June 13 and was one of two officers who arrived on the scene. As the other officer gave chase on foot, Hernandez pursued the suspect in his cruiser. The suspect ran down a side street and into an open field, where Hernandez followed the suspect and ultimately struck him with his cruiser. The suspect did not require medical attention and no weapon was found.
“We felt that he deserved some sort of jail time, given that a jury of his peers found him guilty of second-degree assault,” said Gina Ford, a spokesperson for the Prince George's County State's Attorney's Office.
Prince George's County Police Department's Internal Affairs Unit is still investigating to determine whether Hernandez violated any policies or procedures.
Police Chief Hank Stawinski released the following statement on the matter:
“The conduct at issue today was immediately reported by Officer Hernandez's supervisor and he was immediately suspended on the day of this incident. The process that began with our internal investigation in 2016 today resulted in the sentencing.
“As the internal investigation proceeded, our department’s investigators were immediately concerned that the conduct was criminal in nature. At that point, the case was turned over to the State’s Attorney’s Office, who subsequently charged Officer Hernandez.
“I expect the video of this incident to cause concern in the minds of the public, just as it caused concern in my mind and those of our investigators. As always, the public can rely on me to provide the facts to them once I have them as a means to assure the public that their officers consistently conduct themselves in a manner that the community supports. Where individuals fall short of our collective expectations, I will act to protect the public and to preserve your trust in the department.”