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Grand Jury Transcripts in Beaumont Pepper Spray Case Released, Details Revealed

“It instantly was painful,” was how Monique Hernandez described the pain of getting "JPX'd," or pepper sprayed on the night of Feb. 21.

As residents prepare , and an accused police officer prepares for his next day in court, more details are emerging in the pepper spray blinding case of a Beaumont woman.

Beaumont resident Monique Hernandez, 31, with Beaumont Police Officer Enoch Clark.  That night, she was sprayed with a high-powered pepper spray device called a JPX—and will never see again, according to district attorney reports.

Now, the grand jury investigation that led to the indictment of Officer Clark has been made public and since been obtained by Banning-Beaumont Patch, and more details are coming to light.

The investigation—held in secret on April 17, 18 and 19 in front of a 19 member criminal grand jury—involved several interviews with people involved in the case, including Clark’s backup officer and patrol supervisor who gave their accounts of Feb. 21.

In the transcripts from the grand jury proceedings, Deputy District Attorney Mike Carney questions a total of 10 people: witnesses, experts, investigators and Hernandez herself, included.

In her portion of the proceedings, Hernandez—a former employee of the year at the Beaumont Wal-Mart where she worked until this incident—says that she was first tested for a DUI by Clark via a breathalyzer, but it did not appear to be functioning correctly.

“So [Clark] told me to come over kind of by the front of his police car, and I stood there,” she describes.  “He had me do a breathalyzer.  He told me to take a deep breath and blow in until he told me to stop, which I did.  I believe he gave me a breathalyzer—four different times he had me blow.”

Next, she was asked to do a series of field sobriety tests, according to testimony given by several people. 

“I told him that if he had enough probable cause based on the other field sobriety tests he performed, he could go ahead and make the arrest, take Monique back to the station, and then conduct a Preliminary Alcohol Screening device test at the station since there’s other ones there,” said Beaumont Police Corporal Francisco Velazquez, Jr., who was on scene with Clark that night.

DUI Allegations

Though it’s not clear what Hernandez’ blood alcohol level was at the time, testimony indicates she may have been driving under the influence of alcohol—as the deputy district attorney pointed out in his opening statement.

“…As citizens, I think we should have asked that he put forth some effort there to arrest this drunk woman,” Carney said, addressing the jury and familiarizing them with the case.   “This woman who was on her worst night in the worst night in her worst behavior and didn’t just need protection.  We didn’t just need protection from her driving, she needed protection from herself, and that was his job at that point.

“But what did he do?  He took the route that was really, frankly put, lazy.  And he let annoyance get the better of him, because he pulled out his JPX, pointed it at her face from only six to maybe ten inches away, held it down for a second, then picked it back up again as she continued to argue.  In frustration, you’ll see [in the dashboard camera video] he put it down, and as she kept talking, he went ahead, pulled it up, and shot her.”

In addition to the implied allegations by Carney above, Beaumont Police Commander Gregory Fagan testified that the department has requested driving under the influence charges be filed against Hernandez with the D.A.

The Arrest

Despite what state Hernandez may or may not have been in, she insists that she did not resist being arrested by Clark—rather, she was trying to ask him what the breathalyzer test indicated about her blood alcohol level.

At that point, testimony indicates Hernandez was standing in front of the police car, facing away from Clark, when he went to handcuff her.

“So, you know, I, like, turned to, like, question, like, you know, ‘Are you arresting me?  What is my alcohol level?’  Like ‘What did I blow?’ when he arrested me,” she states in the transcript.

“I don’t feel I was resisting,” she said.  “I even feel that I was thinking to myself why is he telling me, you know, like not to resist when I don’t even feel that I’m resisting.”

The Sheriff’s Department Investigation

Though Officer Clark was not questioned in this grand jury proceeding, as the point of it is to determine if a crime may have been committed in the first place, the sheriff’s department investigator who interviewed him did get called into the proceeding.

Investigator DeLasandro Dean testified that Clark claimed he couldn’t get both handcuffs on Hernandez.  He managed to get the left wrist cuffed, but was having a difficult time with the right one.

“He basically says he’s attempting to put the right cuff, and [Hernandez] is, as he describes it to me, pushing down, and I didn’t really understand it at first, even being a cop, I had to ask, like, explain it to me,” Dean said.  “What are you talking about?  Well, she’s turning her wrist.  And if you turn your wrist, it prevents the officer from, basically putting it on without having to use addition force.  So she’s kind of moving.  She’s turning."

Still, Dean says, Clark said he never lost control of both wrists—holding onto them with his right hand. 

However, the officer told the investigator that, at that point, he was in fear for his life, according to Dean.

“He said that he was extremely fearful, that he thought the actual contact, the arrest was escalating.  He felt that his life and his partner’s life was in jeopardy,” Dean said, adding that Clark told him he was “terrified” in that moment.

“He kept saying that he thought she was going to do something, and the family, that they were—basically, he thought they were going to die out there that night.”

JPX Pepper Spray Deployment

That’s when the officer apparently decided to fire his JPX device, which uses a “wafer” of gunpowder to shoot out a stream of pepper spray at a speed of more than 400 mph, the district attorney’s office has said.  

Testimony from JPX experts indicates that the device be used from a distance no closer than 1.5 meters, or approximately 5 feet.  However, the district attorney's office has said that the device was fired in this case from about 6-10 inches away from Hernandez's face.

“It instantly was painful,” Hernandez said, describing the sensation she felt when sprayed.  “I believe I screamed or cried.  I instantly saw a bright white light, and I couldn’t see.  I instantly peed in my pants.  I felt like I couldn’t really function or move my body.  I just kind of felt stunned, you know, like in shock.”

Permanent Damage

After her arrest, Hernandez was taken to Arrowhead Regional Medical Center in San Bernardino to have her eyes treated.

“The right eye was ruptured, meaning it was split, or lacerated, in half,” said Dr. Keith Tokuhara, who began treating Hernandez the day after she was injured.  “…and then there was severe optic nerve damage to at least the left eye that we could tell.”

The doctor told the grand jury that Hernandez could not—and still cannot—see even the brightest light shined into her eyes, and that she likely never will again.

What’s more, Tokuhara said was so severe—pepper spray particles were found deep behind her eye.

“…In the deeper tissue, during surgery we could express fine droplets of oil particles that was the pepper spray,” he said.

What’s Next

Though it has now been nearly three months since the blinding incident occurred, the legal process is still in the early phases.

Clark, who remains on administrative leave from the Beaumont Police Department, is due to appear in court on May 29 at a trial readiness conference, according to Riverside County District Attorney Spokesman John Hall.

Clark is represented by Lackie, Dammeier & McGill, a firm that solely represents police officers, and his attorney of record is Kasey A. Castillo.

Castillo told Banning-Beaumont Patch that her client maintains his innocence in this case, and pointed out that just because a grand jury has indicted him, that “is a very different standard of proof than that which is necessary for a conviction.”

“Officer Clark maintains his innocence andthe complete picture will be presented to the jury,” Castillo said.  “As you can imagine, his perspective is quite different than that of Ms. Hernandez.”

On April 26, Clark was arraigned on four counts: assault under the color or authority, assault with a less lethal weapon, use of force causing serious bodily injury, and assault with force likely to cause great bodily injury. There is also an enhancement that he personally inflicted great bodily injury.

concerned citizen May 17, 2012 at 12:05 AM
With you on this one Carla
LLODOWN May 17, 2012 at 12:08 AM
Jain take a pill! Washy UR right. How can a trained officer fear for there life & possess so many wepons to none?! Pistols, Shot gun, Baton & pepper spray, & u say she's driving drunk. Two officers & you fear for your life! WOW.....
concerned citizen May 17, 2012 at 12:10 AM
Keep it up Juan. You are so right. As far as Rodney King goes, the police didn't beat him hard enough. They were too easy on him. If they had beat him harder and not awarded him money, maybe he would not have continued to be a criminal. By receiving the money he did, he was rewarded for being a criminal.
Juan Gomez May 17, 2012 at 12:44 AM
LLODOWN keep smoking that crack
Juan Gomez May 17, 2012 at 12:45 AM
My name is Juan Dumb A**
Ellen Carr May 17, 2012 at 01:49 AM
I usually comment but all the comments seem to be personal attacks against each other. All of you should forget your personal animosities and just stick to the facts. Juan Gomez your language is rude and crude and an insult to the English language. If you "cleaned" up your language maybe people would be more apt to listen to what you have to say and to take you seriously.
janet May 17, 2012 at 01:49 AM
"My name is Juan Dumb A**" would that be your First Middle and Last? just curious.
janet May 17, 2012 at 01:54 AM
perhaps its not your full name, i think you were probably trying to be rude instead but you did leave yourself open for that one LMAO!!!!!
Carla May 17, 2012 at 04:16 AM
Washy looks like you cannot read. Not losing control of her hands is not the same as the situation getting out of control. You must be a family member as you seem to have a snide reply for everyone here.
THETRUTH May 18, 2012 at 06:25 AM
THE FACTS THIS LADY AND HER SISTERS WAS IN THE COMMISSION OF A CRIME THEY HAD JUST LEFT FROM ATTACKING A FAMILY ON THE OTHER SIDE OF BEAUMONT AND LEFT THE SCENE DRUNK WITH A BABY IN THE CAR, OFFICER CLARK WAS HELPING TRING TO LOCATE THESE PEOPLE DRIVING DRUNK WITH A 2 YEAR OLD BABY IN THE CAR. WE SHOULD BE STANDING WITH OFFICER CLARK, WHEN DO WE AS PEOPLE PROTECT OFFENDERS IN THE COMMISSION OF A CRIME? THE DAY OF THE MARCH WE WILL MARCH FOR THE FAMILY THAT WAS ATTACKED BY HERNANDEZ AND HER SISTER THAT NIGHT. LAST BUT NOT LEAST THE DAD WAS CHARGED TONIGHT BY BEAUMONT POLICE FOR ASSULT ON A MAN WHO WAS TRING TO GET HIS DAUGHTER FOR HER BIRTHDAY, THE CHILD HAD TO SEE THE SO CALLED VICTUMS FAMILY ATTACK HER DAD. COMMUNITY STAND FOR WHATS RIGHT THIS FAMILY PUNCHES WITH ONE HAND AND SIGNS LAWSUIT PAPERS WITH THE OTHER. THE LORD JESUS WILL SET IN ORDER THAT WHICH IS NOT RIGHT, PLEASE RESTORE OFFICER CLARK HIS JOB BACK AND ARREST HER FOR THE MANY CHARGES THAT ARE BEING OVER LOOKED. STAND UP COMMUNITY SUPPORT THE LOCAL POLICE DEPARTMENT THEY WILL BE THERE ONE DAY WHEN YOU NEED THEM, LETS NOT PUT OUR OFFICERS IN FEAR OF PROTECTING US FROM HUMAN PITBULLS.
a litttle justice May 18, 2012 at 01:02 PM
And tell me why this "Solidarity March" is "HONORING" this person???
Inside Informer May 18, 2012 at 02:43 PM
"The double-barreled shot of pepper spray sliced her right eye in half and fractured her orbital bone. Her left eye’s optic nerve was also severely damaged, leaving her permanently blind." - PE.com article on grand jury testimony.
kim murphy May 18, 2012 at 03:27 PM
Carla I could not agree with you more. Why a March for her and why is Orozco supporting her? Is he trying to turn this into something that it is not?
concerned citizen May 18, 2012 at 03:33 PM
I will be supporting the police all the way. These "people", her family and her are nothing but violent, druggie scumbags who now just hit the lottery. No doubt the old man was hoping to hit the lottery again last night. On their so-call march to city hall, hope an 18 wheeler runs over all of them.
concerned citizen May 18, 2012 at 03:35 PM
Better her than an innocent person being killed by her drunk driving. Bitch will not be driving anymore now.
kim murphy May 18, 2012 at 03:41 PM
Thank You for the update.
Annette D May 19, 2012 at 05:27 AM
There are laws in place to protect people from excessive discipline and/or force. Parents don't get to use weapons on their teens when they come home high on drugs. Teachers can't hit a student when they are tossing furniture about in a classroom. In every role of authority, there are limitations and if they are exceeded there are consequences. To the person that mentioned hitting the family hitting the lottery, having your eyeball split in two and being blinded is hardly a win. If in fact, Hernandez was found drunk, she was irresponsable and she should have received proper punishment in accordance to the law; however, the officer did not follow protocol in executing his weapon and so far according to witness accounts it doesn't appear that his life was endangered.
Annette D May 19, 2012 at 05:29 AM
*irresponsible
concerned citizen May 19, 2012 at 03:42 PM
Boo Hoo, I can't see. Oh, but, wait! I going to get millions of dollars. YIPEE! Now I will just hire someone to drive my drunk ass around and drive my criminal family around. AND ANYONE WHO IS DRIVING AROUND DRUNK SHOULD HAVE THEIR LIFE FORFEITED, PERIOD!
Juan Gomez May 19, 2012 at 11:12 PM
A Little Justice I do not know Victor Dominguez personally but have asked my friends and family about what type of person would lead a march for support of a DRUNK DRIVER they all responded with the same answer a low life criminal!
Juan Gomez May 19, 2012 at 11:30 PM
Oh now I see why Pastor Ken Spicer is supporting a low life criminal, child abuser because 10% of 1 million goes to New Creation Church fraud, Victor will get a percentage for the march and we the Beaumont Tax payers get to fit the bill sounds like a set up by the family, the family church, and Victor
Reuben E. Dominguez Sr. May 30, 2012 at 04:31 AM
Reuben E. Dominguez Sr. 9:06 pm on Tuesday, May 29, 2012 Mr. Clark is a qualified civil servant who has undergone extensive rigorist training to lawfully protect the citizens of Beaumont. He was employed by the Beaumont police department to protect and serve its citizens in a respectful professional manor. Miss Hernandez Actions as a regular citizen of our community resulted in the unlawful criminal REACTIONS of this negligent officer to criminally step-outside his professional training to committ the crime of assult under the code of authority. Instead of protecting this woman, he cowardly, and while hiding behind his badge of respected authority, he PERSONALLY inflicted great bodily injury upon her. But citizens of this beautiful community of Beaumont, let's not be hypocritical of our judgement being passed from a bad choice made by this officer to Miss Hernandez actions. Lets wait for the jurors to read their verdict before you point fingers of blame at who caused what. Justice will prevail and every citizen of Beaumont has a job to seeing that it does. And for those of you who applaud the MISTAKES this officer made, you are no better than the criminals sitting in prison now. But unlike you, this criminal got caught and will cowardly serve his punishment in the DIS-HONORABLE portion of the prison called "PROTECTIVE CUSTODY"
Reuben E. Dominguez Sr. May 30, 2012 at 05:03 AM
Reuben E. Dominguez Sr. 9:06 pm on Tuesday, May 29, 2012 Mr. Clark is a qualified civil servant who has undergone extensive rigorist training to lawfully protect the citizens of Beaumont. He was employed by the Beaumont police department to protect and serve its citizens in a respectful professional manor. Miss Hernandez Actions as a regular citizen of our community resulted in the unlawful criminal REACTIONS of this negligent officer to criminally step-outside his professional training to committ the crime of assult under the code of authority. Instead of protecting this woman, he cowardly, and while hiding behind his badge of respected authority, he PERSONALLY inflicted great bodily injury upon her. But citizens of this beautiful community of Beaumont, let's not be hypocritical of our judgement being passed from a bad choice made by this officer to Miss Hernandez actions. Lets wait for the jurors to read their verdict before you point fingers of blame at who caused what. Justice will prevail and every citizen of Beaumont has a job to seeing that it does. And for those of you who applaud the MISTAKES this officer made, you are no better than the criminals sitting in prison now. But unlike you, this criminal got caught and will cowardly serve his punishment in the DIS-HONORABLE portion of the prison called "PROTECTIVE CUSTODY"
kim murphy May 30, 2012 at 04:46 PM
Yes lets wait till the Jurors decide, so I dont understand why you are holding this walk for her???? Can you explain it to me?
Carla May 30, 2012 at 09:56 PM
Reuben, Wow you have a lot of nerve calling anyone who doesn't see it your way a "criminal". You yourself must be a criminal, as it takes one to know one. I know that might sound immature, but I am just responding to you in the same manner.
Reuben E. Dominguez Sr. May 31, 2012 at 04:55 AM
Kim Murphy, I am also confused on the point of this Solidarity March. I am not an organizer of this event. I can only offer you my opinion: From the information I've gathered: This Solidarity March is not for her. She just happens to be the injured party in this unfortunate incident, I believe this gathering is to bring public awareness of the injustices citizens of a lower social status continually face when contact is made with law enforcement. But like i said, this is only my opinion. I am not an organizer and have no authority to speak on behalf of this event.
Reuben E. Dominguez Sr. May 31, 2012 at 05:27 AM
Carla, It doesn't take nerve to stand by facts. I never called anyone who doesn't share my opinion, "A Criminal". I called officer Clark a criminal for participating in criminal activity he chose during this unfortunate incident, and yes I am a criminal. And yes again, it is easier for criminals to see criminals for they share the same vision. Thank you for making it so transparent to the unaware citizens of our community. Carla, everyone makes mistakes, from the most intelligent individuals to the dumbiest of peoples. Its what we've learned from our mistakes and how we overcome the negatives, that makes us who we are.
Liz H May 31, 2012 at 05:31 AM
KNOW YOUR PLACE and SHUT your FACE!! You'll never know what its like to be in her shoes.
Someone May 31, 2012 at 07:47 AM
It sounds like Juan Gomez has some personal issues with his former church and pastor to me! You're obviously using this unfortunate situation to tattle on them. Why don't you step up, be a man, and deal with those issues on your own time...not ours. You've made it quite apparent your feelings have been hurt . Now move on...seriously! It is quite annoying.
Someone May 31, 2012 at 07:50 AM
Right!

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