BOYLE HEIGHTS, California — The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced, an LAPD officer who was caught on video repeatedly hitting a trespassing suspect in Boyle Heights, CA has been charged with assault.
49-year-old Frank Hernandez faces one felony county of assault under color of authority.
“This is a disturbing case of the illegal use of force at the hands of a police officer,” District Attorney Jackie Lacey said in a news release. “In this case, we believe the force was neither legally necessary nor reasonable.”
The incident unfolded on April 27, when Hernandez and his partner responded to a call about a trespasser in a vacant lot in the 2400 block of Houston Street, Los Angeles Police Department officials said at the time.
Video recorded by a bystander from across the street shows the officers detaining a man on a sidewalk by a church.
There is a verbal exchange between the 28-year-old man and the officer later, determined to be Hernandez, before Hernandez strikes the man several times in the head while screaming expletives.
Video shows the man crouched down as he asks the officer “What is wrong with you?”
Hernandez’s female partner stands behind him during the attack then places her hand on her fellow officer’s arm before he could throw another punch.
The attack lasted about 20 seconds.
The video led to an investigation by the LAPD.
The man, who is identified in the criminal complaint as “Richard C,” was eventually released.
In the news release announcing the charges, officials said Hernandez “illegally” punched the unarmed man “more than a dozen times in the head, neck and body.”
Hernandez has been with the department for more than 20 years and was involved in three on-duty shootings, the Los Angeles Times reported.
He has since been stripped of his powers and assigned to home, police said.
In a statement Tuesday, LAPD officials said they are cooperating with the DA and called the video
“The Department has taken this matter very seriously from day-one and he will be held accountable for his actions,” Chief Michel Moore said in a statement.
Hernandez is scheduled to be arraigned on Thursday and he faces three years in jail.
The charge comes as protesters around the world are decrying police brutality in the wake of George Floyd’s killing at the hands of Minneapolis police.