PALMER PARK, Md. - A Prince George’s County police officer who rammed a fleeing suspect with a marked police cruiser was found guilty by a jury and is now facing up to a decade in prison.
On June 13, 2016, Juan Hernandez and another officer responded to a call about a fight between potentially armed suspects. Police said three men were arguing and one man reportedly indicated the other two threatened to shoot him. As an officer was checking for weapons and patting down the individuals, 22-year-old Ulrich Boaoutou ran away.
Officer Hernandez pulled up to the scene and saw Boaoutou running and pursued him. That is when Hernandez struck him with his cruiser. Boaoutou was not injured and refused medical treatment.
The incident was captured on dash cam video and was immediately reported by Hernandez’s supervisor. Hernandez was suspended that day.
“I was upset when I saw the in-car camera footage of this event and I fully expect my community to be upset when you see the in-car camera footage of this event,” said Prince George’s County Police Chief Hank Stawinski. “But the fact that that footage exists serves as a testament to the transparency of this agency. This does not represent constitutional policing as it is practiced in Prince George's County.”
Police began an internal investigation looking into whether the officer's actions were criminal. It was at that point the case was turned over to the Prince George’s County State’s Attorney’s Office. They ultimately charged Hernandez.
“We hope that today's verdict will affirm the public's trust in us,” said Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Angela Alsobrooks. “That when we see things that are in opposite of the values of this community, that we will act on them.”
Hernandez was convicted of one count of second-degree assault. But he was found not guilty of misconduct in office.
Officer Hernandez has worked for the Prince George's County Police Department for eleven years and was assigned to the Bureau of Patrol.