A woman in California recently filed a lawsuit against local police who negligently used pepper spray against her, causing traumatic brain injury and significant eye damage. Our team of police misconduct lawyers examines the details of this case and the injury claims this woman is making.
The incident occurred in Beaumont, California, in February 2012 after officers responded to a 911 domestic disturbance call. One of the responding officers, Enoch Clark, subjected Hernandez to field sobriety tests and a Breathalyzer outside her family home that night. What happened next is hotly contested.
Officer Clark claims Hernandez resisted arrest by kicking, grabbing, and trying to pull away from him, all of which the woman denies. She says she never attempted to flee, and that the officer shoved her against his patrol car unprovoked. She and various witnesses said the tactics used against her were both heavy-handed and unreasonable.
For reasons unclear, Clark ultimately decided to use his JPX pepper spray gun against Hernandez from less than ten inches away. He sprayed her head and eye area with the pepper spray, causing her to cry out in extreme pain. Her family members at the scene tried to come to her aid, however officers kept them away from Hernandez using batons and intimidation.
JPX pepper spray guns shoot out the liquid over 400 miles per hour and cause serious, life-long eye injury if hit from less than five feet away. Police officers who are entrusted with this product know this, and know the implications of its use, including how dangerous it is to fire it off from inches away. Hernandez’s complaint states that the officer sprayed her with the JPX without any legitimate justification.
Within a few moments, Hernandez started bleeding from her mouth and nose as her eyes swelled shut. Still in handcuffs and unable to breath properly, the officers did not assist her, instead shoving her into the back of the patrol car. Officers also know how important it is to wash out the eyes after they have been contaminated with pepper spray, however they failed completely to do this for Hernandez.
Rather than assisting her in any way, they left her in the patrol car without any type of medical care for over ten minutes. Hernandez asserts that they were planning out what they would tell their sergeant when he arrived at the scene, to cover up and try to excuse their blatant misconduct. After it became clear Hernandez needed immediate medical attention, the officers themselves had to take her to the emergency room.
Over two years after the incident, Hernandez now requires full-time medical care. The JPX spray caused severe nerve damage in her left eye and all but destroyed her right eye, leaving her blind. Her doctors say she will likely never see again.
The county Sherriff’s department opening an investigation into the incident and indicted him on four felony charges: assault with a less lethal weapon, assault with force likely to cause severe bodily injury, assault under color of authority, and use of force causing severe bodily injury. He now faces up to 20 years in prison.
Police brutality lawsuits of this kind occur when an officer uses undue, excessive force that causes severe bodily injury to the victim. Our team of police misconduct lawyers have decades of experience fighting on behalf of victims like Monique Hernandez and their families. If you or someone you know was hospitalized due to excessive, illegitimate police force, contact our firm immediately. You may be able to receive compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and emotional distress.