A Pennsylvania cop arrested for ripping a phone out of a woman’s hand because she was recording, then slamming it on a sidewalk and punching her in the face was acquitted of all charges Wednesday.
This despite video evidence proving Reading police officer Jesus Santiago-DeJesus violating the woman’s First Amendment right to record as well as proving he lied about why he had pulled her over in the first place.
In fact, Berks County District Attorney John T. Adams reviewed five videos from the April 5 incident before deciding to charge Santiago-DeJesus official oppression, attempted tampering with/fabricating evidence, false reports to law enforcement, unsworn falsification to authorities and criminal mischief.
But District Judge Thomas H. Xavios apparently believed the cop’s attorney, who claimed the videos misrepresented what had taken place, claiming that Santiago-DeJesus was in fear for his life because the phone could have been a weapon.
That is why, attorney Allan Sodomsky claims, his client had no choice but to rip the phone out of the woman’s hand, punch her in the face, them slam her head into a metal pipe in the ground, resulting in her being hospitalized for three days
But Sodomsky did not have much much explanation as to why his client pulled over Marcelina Cintron-Garcia, accusing her of failing to use a turn signal while parking, when a video shows she did use a turn signal.
Santiago-DeJesus detained the driver, Marcelina Cintron-Garcia, and the passenger, Joel Rodriguez, outside the car, and both of the vehicle’s occupants proceeded to record video of the officer with their cell phones.
Santiago-DeJesus then called for backup as he ordered Rodriguez to sit down and hand him his phone. Rodriguez complied.
A verbal disagreement over the traffic stop became argumentative, and after several verbal warnings from Santiago-DeJesus, he ordered Cintron-Garcia and Rodriguez to sit on the front steps of a nearby row home.
Moments later, two other officers arrived, and Cintron-Garcia continued to record video as she sat on the steps.
Santiago-DeJesus then ordered the driver to hand over her phone, and she refused. Rodriguez, the passenger, then shifted his body toward the officer and Cintron-Garcia, preventing the officer from obtaining the driver’s phone.
Santiago-DeJesus then directed the backup officers to “get him out of here,” referring to Rodriguez.
The backup officers then pulled Rodriguez off the steps and onto the sidewalk, where they handcuffed him.
Sanatiago-DeJesus then “forcibly wrestled” the phone from Cintron-Garcia’s hand and slammed it to the sidewalk, damaging the phone “in an attempt to destroy potential evidence.”
It was only three months earlier that the 27-year-old police officer was disciplined for ripping the phone out of the hands of a 40-year-old man trying to record him, so he evidently has a fear of phones, a common phobia affecting many in law enforcement.
Last year, Santiago-DeJesus shot up a car with teens after claiming he was in fear for his life when they were backing into him, but nobody died in that incident and he was cleared.
Charges against Cintron-Garcia and her boyfriend were dismissed after the videos surfaced.