Prince George's County Officer Sentenced for Striking Suspect With Cruiser

A Prince George's County police officer will not serve any prison time after being convicted for striking a suspect with his police cruiser last summer.

Officer Juan Hernandez was facing up to 10 years in prison for the second-degree assault. On Friday, he received a suspended jail sentence of two years, the Prince George's County State's Attorney's Office announced.

Hernandez was also given two years probation and must complete 100 hours of community service. 

"We felt that he deserved some sort of jail time given the fact that a jury of his peers found him guilty of second-degree assault," Prince George's County State's Attorney's Office spokeswoman Gina Ford said.

Hernandez was one of two officers who responded to a call for an armed person on June 13, 2016. As the other officer chased the suspect on foot, Hernandez pursued the suspect in his cruiser, prosecutors said. The suspect ran down a side street and into an open field. Hernandez followed the suspect and struck him with his cruiser, according to the state's attorney's office.

"If you watch the video in this case, you'll see that he turned his car into the individual, causing him to fly up over his hood," Ford said. "And it was actually just a lucky thing that the individual was not injured."

The suspect was not injured and no weapon was found in his possession. He did not cooperate with the investigation.

"Officer Hernandez was following, chasing a suspect who was said to be armed," said John Teletchea of the Prince George's County Fraternal Order of Police.

Hernandez worked for the Prince George's County Police Department for 11 years.

The defense attorney in this case said until this incident, Hernandez had a spotless and exemplary record with the Prince George’s County Police Department.

"Once incident should not define the great work that this man has done throughout his career," Teletchea said.

Internal Affairs will investigate Hernandez, who has been on suspension since his indictment. After that, the department will decide whether he stays.

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