The Hollister Police Department last week released video from a 2016 arrest in which a suspect is seen assaulting police and resisting arrest as the officers used force to attempt to subdue him at a county law enforcement facility.
The video showing the arrest of Ery Hernandez, along with other evidence including 911 phone call audio recordings, have been tied up in the courts since the incident, and the case against Hernandez was finally resolved in 2021, according to authorities.
“We are releasing video of the incident so that our community can see all the details, in context, in the interest of transparency,” Hollister Police said in a press release.
On Dec. 19, 2016, Hernandez called the Hollister PD from the McDonald’s on San Felipe Road to request police assistance. He told the dispatcher that he thought his life was in danger, but he didn’t offer details, according to the video, which contains audio recording of the 911 call.
When officers arrived at the McDonald’s, Hernandez was gone, according to police.
Shortly thereafter, a man arrived at San Benito County Juvenile Hall on Flynn Road to request police assistance. Hollister Police officers arrived and identified the man as Hernandez, who was 27 at the time, authorities said.
Hernandez had told juvenile hall staff that he thought himself and his family were in danger, according to the video.
Officers evaluated Hernandez for mental health issues at juvenile hall, but determined he did not meet the criteria for a mandatory evaluation, known as a “5150 hold,” police said.
Officers also determined that Hernandez was showing signs that he was under the influence of a controlled substance, authorities said. Police began evaluating him for recent use of controlled substances, but Hernandez would not cooperate and became “increasingly agitated and confrontational,” says the press release.
The officers attempted to place Hernandez in handcuffs, but he began to physically resist and fight with police, authorities said. The physical confrontation began inside the front lobby of juvenile hall, and officers’ initial calls for help over the radio were not heard by the dispatch center.
During the course of the confrontation, police officers used pepper spray and three shots from a Taser, but these were ineffective in subduing Hernandez, according to police.
The officers, with the assistance of juvenile hall staff, were able to exit the confined room—which by now was filled with pepper spray—and tried to keep Hernandez inside until backup arrived, authorities said. However, Hernandez “charged the officers in the doorway” and continued to fight with the police and attempt to escape.
The surveillance video footage from juvenile hall showed one of the officers grab Hernandez to keep him from escaping, while another officer repeatedly used his baton to strike the suspect. The video shows an officer strike Hernandez dozens of times with a baton while the suspect continued to kick the officers and try to stand up. The violence occurred just inside the doorway of the juvenile hall facility, while the door remained open.
Officers said Hernandez made numerous statements about “the mob” and having “good information,” according to the video. He is heard on the video referring to the officers attempting to arrest him as “the mafia.”
Backup officers and paramedics then arrived at juvenile hall, and Hernandez was finally detained, police said.
Hernandez suffered a cut to his hand and multiple fractures to his arm as a result of the confrontation, police said. While at the hospital, he told staff that he had consumed heroin, methamphetamine and marijuana earlier that day.
Hernandez was later charged with resisting arrest, making threats to law enforcement, battery on a peace officer and being under the influence of a controlled substance, according to authorities.
Both officers that Hernandez fought with at juvenile hall suffered minor injuries, but did not require treatment at the hospital, police said.
All video released of the confrontation was from a security camera outside the juvenile hall facility. Hollister Police officers did not wear body cameras in 2016, authorities said.
The 2016 case has been tied up in the court process for several years. Hernandez—who had been diagnosed with a mental illness—was placed on court-ordered mental health diversion, despite the objection of the San Benito County District Attorney’s Office, Hollister Police said.
In 2021, a San Benito County Superior Court judge dismissed the charges against Hernandez after he completed the mental health program. Between his 2016 arrest and 2021 dismissal of the case, Hernandez was the subject of “several other calls” involving his violent behavior toward family members and other people in Hollister, the Hollister PD press release says.
The video, police reports and other state’s evidence related to the 2016 case is now releasable under state law because the charges against Hernandez have been resolved, police said. Also, someone had recently submitted a public records request for the video.
Since the December 2016 incident, the Hollister Police Department has taken steps to improve officers’ procedures and training, the press release added. Since the arrest of Hernandez, both involved officers and the entire HPD staff have received additional training that includes arrest and control, tactical communication, force options, implicit bias training, de-escalation and mental health awareness.
“The Hollister Police Department takes the conduct of our officers very seriously, as well as the compliance of our arrest policy,” says the press release.
The department has also partnered with San Benito County Behavioral Health Department to create the S.A.F.E. team (Support, Awareness, Follow-up & Engagement) to provide emergency and continued assistance to community members suffering with mental and substance abuse matters, police said. The Hollister S.A.F.E. Team Officer has also provided additional training for police personnel, and more training is expected.
“Although incidents involving great bodily injury to a suspect are extremely rare at the Hollister Police Department, the department would like the residents of Hollister to know we understand the optics of the video likely cause concern and the city has taken and is continuing to take steps to eliminate encounters such as these in the future,” says the press release.
The department added that it cannot comment further on the 2016 incident due to pending civil litigation.
To view the video of the 2016 arrest of Ery Hernandez, released by Hollister Police Department last week, visit youtu.be/M6_OwYIjgZY. To read the officers’ police reports of the incident, visit hollister.ca.gov/wp-content/uploads/2022/02/Case-16-3184.pdf.