In Prince George’s County, Maryland, the police force in the Washington, D.C. suburb has an infamous reputation for exhibiting wanton brutality. On Wednesday, a county officer was convicted of first-degree assault and misconduct in office.
Jenchesky Santiago is the P.G. County officer who recklessly aimed his service weapon at the head of an unarmed Black man and tried coercing the citizen to fight him. The incident took place in May 2014, and the harrowing footage of the confrontation was captured on a cellphone and recently released by the county police.
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William Cunningham, the victim, said Wednesday that he still thinks every day about the terrifying traffic stop beside his front lawn . “I thought I was going to die right there,” he said. “I just thought it was over.”
He complained to the police department shortly after the episode, and the department alerted the state’s attorney’s office.
“I’m thankful justice was served,” Cunningham said Wednesday.
At the time of the confrontation, Santiago had two friends from New Jersey riding with him in his police car, although he was not authorized to bring along visitors.
“We think, unfortunately, what happened is that he was showing off for his friends,” said Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Angela D. Alsobrooks.
Santiago’s tough-guy act began in front of Cunningham’s home in the affluent town of Bowie. Cunningham and a cousin were chatting in a car when Santiago pulled up to him and his cousin and began his intimidation. Santiago told Cunningham he was parked illegally, which was later found to be false, and complied by going into his home.
Drunk with power, Santiago reportedly went to Cunningham’s door and aimed his weapon at his head. On the video, Cunningham appears to be nearly frozen with fear.
Santiago faces a mandatory minimum of five years without parole for using his firearm in a violent crime. He could potentially face up to 45 years in prison.
Cunningham said the experience has left him traumatized and unable to work at times.
SOURCE: Washington Post | VIDEO CREDIT: PGPD