The video clearly bears out the fact that Hernandez was compliant and beaten without reason.
Santiago Hernandez says he did exactly what the officer asked him to do. He was waiting to meet a friend outside 428 E. 157th Street when officers asked to search him.
“Did she say why she was searching you?” Eyewitness News reporter N.J. Burkett asked.
“No,” Hernandez said.
Hernandez says the officers claimed they were investigating a noise complaint. When the search came up empty, he says he asked the officers why he had been searched.
And with that, he says, one of the officers grabbed his arm and slapped on handcuffs.
The usual retort to claims of this sort is that all the “perp” need do is comply, except this time, you see Hernandez submit to a flagrantly unconstitutional search for “noise” (Protip: it’s highly unlikely you’re going to find proof of noise with a frisk, officers), with the practiced spread that every kid in the Bronx is taught at an early age for self-survival.
But, but, but, you stutter, he asked why? Doesn’t that deserve a beating on its own? Apparently so.
To their credit, the Bronx District Attorney’s office declined to prosecute Hernandez for disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. On the other hand, they didn’t prosecute the police officers for beating the crap out of Hernandez because, well, reasons. Actually, no reasons.
Had there been no video, one would suspect that no prosecutor and no judge would ever believe Hernandez’s lawyer, Jay Heinrich, when he explained at arraignment that the defendant not only did nothing, but submitted to an wholly unjustifiable search and got beaten anyway.
“Unfortunately, for young men like Santiago, I think this incident is all too common,” said Jay Heinrich, Hernandez’s attorney.
Welcome to life in the Bronx. But then, the story takes one turn at its end that mires it in the usual media muck:
Santiago was on parole at the time of the incident after he had spent six years in prison for gang assault back when he was 14.
Given the video, that “Santiago” (a curious use of his first name) had not only committed no crime, but was the victim of flagrant police abuse, what purpose was served by the gratuitous inclusion of the victim’s criminal history and parole status? Is this meant to suggest that kids on parole can be beaten at will by police, or that just a reminder that he was once a criminal and so his beating shouldn’t get anyone too bent out of shape?
The best spin on its inclusion is that it’s offered to explain Hernandez’s reluctance to acquiesce to arrest, to offer his wrists to the cops so they could slap on cuffs without muss. Because his being innocent of any wrongdoing wouldn’t be a sufficient explanation for not wanting to get arrested.