23-year-old Santiago Hernandez says he was assaulted by up to half a dozen uniformed NYPD officers after he was stopped and frisked in the Melrose section of the Bronx.
It happened on August 18th at about 6 p.m.
“I turned around and put my hands up,” said Santiago Hernandez, the alleged brutality victim.
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.
“I’m like, ‘Miss what you doing? You are hurting my arm,'” Hernandez said.
The surveillance video is silent, but a cell phone video captured part of it.
“She just was telling me to put my hands behind my back, but ‘I’m like trying to understand what are you are arresting me for. Can you please tell me?'” Hernandez said.
Moments later, half-a-dozen officers arrived and appeared to pile-on. Hernandez said he was punched, kicked, beaten with nightsticks, and blasted with pepper spray.
“They was taking turns on me. One kicks me, he steps back. Another one comes to punch me and he steps back. And another one comes and grabs my arm and hits me like 10 times with the baton. Another one comes and pepper sprayed me, they were taking turns like a gang,” Hernandez said.
Cell phone video showed Hernandez being dragged to a waiting patrol car.
Although he was later charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest, the Bronx DA declined to prosecute the case. And Hernandez was left with bruises from head to toe.
“At one point you had a chance to put both of your hands behind your back, but you didn’t do that,” Burkett said.
“Yes,” Hernandez said.
“Why not?” Burkett asked.
“Because I’m a person to ask questions. If I didn’t do nothing wrong, I’m trying to understand the reason, what they are thinking of me, or what was the reason at all to arrest me,” Hernandez said.
Hernandez and his lawyers are filing a civilian complaint. And now the NYPD’s Internal Affairs Bureau is investigating.
“Unfortunately, for young men like Santiago, I think this incident is all too common,” said Jay Heinrich, Hernandez’s attorney.
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.