A Riverside County police officer accused of using his pepper spray gun to permanently blind a woman pleaded not guilty yesterday to all charges against him.
On Feb. 21, Officer Enoch Clark of the Beaumont Police Department pulled over Beaumont resident Monique Christina Hernandez, 32, on suspicion of drunk driving. For reasons that aren’t clear an argument or altercation ensued, and Clark ended up shooting Hernandez in the face with his JPX pepper spray device.
That particular “less-than-lethal” weapon is supposed to be used at distances of five feet or more, according to a criminal grand jury report released yesterday upon Clarks’ arraignment. Instead, the grand jury concluded, Clark shot Hernandez in the face from less than a foot away.
The San Bernardino Sun reports that both Hernadez’ eyes were severely injured as a result of the blast, and it is doubtful she will ever see again. A report by KTLA quotes Hernandez’ lawyer, Milton Grimes, as saying that the force of the impact caused “her right eye to explode” and “severe nerve damage on her left eye.”
The grand jury brought four criminal counts against the Beaumont officer, all of them variations on assault or unnecessary use of force.
Clark’s attorneys say he is remorseful, yet innocent of all charges. He has been placed on administrative leave.
Hernandez appeared at a press conference yesterday wearing sunglasses and holding a cane. Her attorney, Grimes, said she has a 10-year-old child “who she will never see again.”
Grimes took a photograph of Hernandez’ damaged right eye as she lay in her hospital bed which can be seen in the KTLA report.