An officer in New York was responding to a noise complain in the Bronx last month when she stopped and searched Santiago Hernandez. Hernandez says that when he questioned the seemingly random search, he was arrested and then beaten by half a dozen officers. While the charges against him have since been dropped, disturbing new video of the event has brought the story back into the news, and is leading some to question whether the charges were ever legitimate.
Two videos actually exist of the beating of Santiago Hernandez: One from a security camera, and the other from a mobile phone. Taken together, the two corroborate Hernandez’s claim that he was kicked, beaten with night sticks, and pepper sprayed. But Hernandez says even before that, he was confused by why he was stopped for a search, and why exactly that search led to his arrest.
“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?’” he recounted to ABC7.
“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,” he added.
The two charges against Hernandez — disorderly conduct and resisting arrest — don’t clarify why exactly the man was arrested. They do, however, highlight what can be murky circumstances in police brutality cases: A person says that they were a victim of police brutality, then officers cite ‘resisting arrest’ as a secondary offense that provoked the use of force. Alleged cases of police brutality are often explained by police departments as responses to people resisting arrest, like a man who was held down by multiple police officers after one of them questioned him about a $2.50 bus ticket, or a father who suffered a concussion at the hands of officers after calling them to help with a dispute involving his daughter.
The NYPD has launched an investigation into the incident involving Santiago Hernandez.