A hung jury forced the judge to declare a mis-trial in the case of a California police officer who permanently blinded a woman with pepper spray while arresting her for a traffic violation. The former cop was charged with excessive force.
When Monica Hernandez got behind the wheel of her car outside her home in Beaumont California she had no idea that within a few minutes she would be totally blind, robbed of her sight by pepper spray, sprayed from a distance of just one foot from her face by California cop Enoch Clark.
At his trial, for excessive use of force, the courtroom heard the full and harrowing details of the Injuries Hernandez suffered.
The blast of pepper spray gel sliced her right eye in half, fractured her right orbital bone and severed the optic nerve in her left eye, the Press-Enterprise reported. The prosecutor in the case described the stream as “literally blowing [her eyes] to pieces and entering her head,” according to City News Service.
A dash cam recording shows Hernandez with her hands behind her back, saying repeatedly that she was not resisting arrest and demanding to know why she is being arrested. According to Clark he used the pepper spray because Hernandez was resisting arrest and he feared for his safety as some of her relatives were watching the unfolding events.
“Every single day, she goes to bed at night, dreaming of a time when she used to be able to see,” Deputy District Attorney Michael Carney said, according to the Press-Enterprise. “When Monique Hernandez wakes up, the world is still dark because her sight was violently taken from here. Her eyeballs were literally blown into pieces, and the person who did this was a police officer.”
Steve Sanchez, Clarks attorney said in his closing statement:
Clark’s decision to fire the pepper spray gun was “made in a split second, and you can’t second-guess the officer.’’ He said Clark was anxious because he wondered whether he might be attacked by any of Hernandez’s half-dozen family members who were watching.
“When you’re in a situation with a suspect who’s resisting, you’re focused on controlling that suspect and getting that person into custody,’’ Sanchez said. “If suspects know you’re afraid, they have the advantage.”
Michael Carney, the prosecutor in the case disagreed with Sanchez saying:
“She has her hands behind her back. Yes, she’s mouthy and drunk, but there is no way to justify his response,’’ Carney said. “When officers act like this, we can’t give them a pass. We can’t put a stamp of approval on what he did. Hold him accountable for robbing Monique of her sight.’’
“Any option was better than what he did,’’ Carney said. “It was a battle of egos. She was drunk and acting like a jerk; he was way too stern and getting annoyed at her behavior. Then he goes from 0 to 60. He goes from a little bit of effort to inflicting a brutal injury.’’
Clark and the city of Beaumont are being sued in federal court for alleged civil rights violations leading to Hernandez’s permanent injury. Clark, who was chairman of the local police union, was initially placed on administrative leave, and then quietly fired by the department.
As for the hung jury, you have to ask yourself what two people are thinking of when they indicate that blinding is an acceptable punishment for the suspicion of driving under the influence.
Chris Carrington is a writer, researcher and lecturer with a background in science, technology and environmental studies. Chris is an editor for The Daily Sheeple. Wake the flock up!