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Mistrial Declared for Ex-Cop Who Blinded Woman with Pepper Gun


Friday, May 16th, 2014
Issue 20, Volume 18.


RIVERSIDE - With jurors unable to reach a unanimous verdict, a mistrial was declared today in the trial of a former Beaumont policeman who blinded a woman when he fired a pepper-spray gun inches away from her face.

After convening for less than an hour this morning, following four full days of deliberations, the panel weighing the fate of 38-year-old Enoch "Jeremy" Clark informed Riverside County Superior Court Judge Mac Fisher that it could not work though an impasse -- with the vote 10-2 in favor of convicting the ex-cop. Fisher declared the jury hopelessly deadlocked and ended proceedings.

He scheduled a status conference for July 24, when the District Attorney's Office will disclose whether it intends to retry the case.

Prosecutors could modify the complaint against Clark. He's charged with assault by a peace officer causing injury, assault with a less-lethal weapon, battery causing serious injury and assault resulting in great bodily injury for firing a pepper spray pistol into the eyes of 32-year-old Monique Hernandez on the night of Feb. 21, 2012.

Deputy District Attorney Mike Carney said Clark got "annoyed" with Hernandez when she resisted his attempts to handcuff her.

"And look at what happened," Carney said. "Monique Hernandez will never see again."

The prosecutor condemned Clark for firing a JPX pepper spray gun, which discharges propellant at 400 mph, 10 inches from Hernandez's face while arresting her on suspicion of misdemeanor DUI. The prosecutor alleged the defendant lied to cover up his actions, telling investigators that he felt his life was threatened and he was "slipping off balance" while holding the device, causing it to fire prematurely.

"Yes, (Monique) is mouthy and drunk, but there is no way to justify his response," Carney said.

Defense attorney Steve Sanchez blamed his client's superiors, inadequate training on the weapon, unclear instructions on how to use it and other factors for what transpired.

Sanchez said the JPX manufacturer's warnings on the minimum safe distance to fire the pepper pistol were confusing. He pointed to errors in the instruction manual, including a misplaced comma that suggested the weapon could be fired from one meter -- three feet -- away, instead of the 1.5 meters actually required.

The attorney said the Beaumont Police Department never gave officers an opportunity to test-fire the JPX pistols before carrying them on patrol. He said his client's decision to fire the gun was "made in a split second, and you can't second-guess the officer."

Dash-cam video from Clark's patrol car on the night of the confrontation showed Hernandez with her hands behind her back, jostling as Clark tries to handcuff her.

The lawman repeatedly tells the woman to "stop resisting" and "get your hands behind your back," while Hernandez answers, "I'm not resisting" and demands to know why she's being arrested.

The grainy black-and-white video clip runs two to three minutes, at the end of which Clark reaches for his belt and unholsters a device, firing it into Hernandez's face.

Clark and the city of Beaumont are being sued in federal court for alleged civil rights violations. Los Angeles attorney Milton Grimes is representing Hernandez.

Clark, who was fired from the police department in July 2012, remains free on $50,000 Advertisement
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Jury begins third day of deliberations in trial of ex-cop who blinded woman

RIVERSIDE - A Riverside jury began its third day of deliberations today in the trial of a former Beaumont policeman who blinded a woman when he fired a pepper-spray gun inches away from her face.

Enoch "Jeremy" Clark, 38, faces more than 20 years behind bars if convicted of assault by a peace officer causing injury, assault with a less lethal weapon, battery causing serious injury and assault resulting in great bodily injury.

Jurors began weighing evidence in the case Wednesday morning. Since then, the panel has sent two notes to Riverside County Superior Court Judge Mac Fisher seeking clarification on matters of law, without indicating which way it may be leaning.

Clark fired a pepper spray pistol at point-blank range into the eyes of 32-year-old Monique Hernandez on the night of Feb. 21, 2012.

Deputy District Attorney Mike Carney told jurors in his closing argument that instead of behaving like a professional law enforcement officer, Clark got "annoyed" with Hernandez as she resisted his attempts to handcuff her.

"And look at what happened," Carney said. "Monique Hernandez will never see again."

The prosecutor condemned Clark for firing a JPX pepper spray gun, which discharges propellant at 400 mph, 10 inches from Hernandez's face while arresting her for misdemeanor DUI. The prosecutor characterized all of the defendant's statements to investigators regarding the confrontation as "bull--- -."

"There was no imminent threat to his life. He wasn't slipping off balance when he pulled that trigger," the prosecutor said. "Any option was better than what he did. He goes from a little bit of effort to inflicting a brutal injury."

"She has her hands behind her back. Yes, she's mouthy and drunk, but there is no way to justify his response," Carney said.

Defense attorney Steve Sanchez faulted his client's superiors, inadequate training on the weapon, unclear instructions on how to use it and other factors for what transpired.

Sanchez said the JPX manufacturer's warnings on the minimum safe distance to fire the pepper pistol were confusing. He pointed to errors in the instruction manual, including a misplaced comma that suggested the weapon could be fired from one meter -- three feet -- away, instead of the 1.5 meters actually required.

The attorney said that because the Beaumont Police Department was "too cheap" to purchase practice cartridges, officers were deployed with the JPX devices without ever having had an opportunity to fire them.

Sanchez said his client's decision to fire the pepper spray gun was "made in a split second, and you can't second-guess the officer."

A dash-cam videotape taken from Clark's patrol car on the night of the confrontation showed an intoxicated Hernandez with her hands behind her back, jostling as Clark attempts to handcuff her.

The lawman repeatedly tells the woman to "stop resisting" and "get your hands behind your back," while Hernandez answers, "I'm not resisting" and demands to know why she's being taken into custody.

The grainy black-and-white video clip runs two to three minutes, at the end of which Clark reaches toward his duty belt and unholsters a device, firing it into Hernandez's face.

Clark and the city of Beaumont are being sued in federal court for alleged civil rights violations leading to permanent injury. Los Angeles attorney Milton Grimes is representing Hernandez.

Clark is free on $50,000 bail.


 

3 comments

Comment Profile ImageNUNYA
Comment #1 | Tuesday, May 20, 2014 at 8:56 am
This "officer of the law" wanted to punish this woman as violently as he could. He is a monster and needs to be off the streets for good.
Comment Profile ImageReality Checker
Comment #2 | Wednesday, May 21, 2014 at 5:26 pm
I coudnt pic up on if this was a criminal complaint or just a civil case. If its a criminal case, he will be off the streets you can count on it. As it should be. And that should set an example for others on the force.
Comment Profile ImageJack Beckman
Comment #3 | Thursday, May 29, 2014 at 1:10 pm
At least they fired him. Most outfits would have put him on paid administrate leave complete with all benefits and overtime pay, paid for by the taxpayers. No cop should be allowed to carry spray or tazers until they have experienced being sprayed or tazered. Maybe if they knew what it felt like they wouldn't be so quick to use it. On the other hand they aren't rocket scientests by any means.

Article Comments are contributed by our readers, and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Valley News staff. The name listed as the author for comments cannot be verified; Comment authors are not guaranteed to be who they claim they are.

 

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