Jury Seated, Trial Starting for Former Beaumont Cop Accused of Blinding Woman in DUI Stop

Enoch Clark, 38, could face more than 20 years in prison if convicted of the disabling assault on 32-year-old Monique Hernandez on Feb. 21, 2012.

Former Beaumont Police Officer Enoch Clark is seen in this 2012 Banning-Beaumont Patch file photo.  Credit: Renee Schiavone
Former Beaumont Police Officer Enoch Clark is seen in this 2012 Banning-Beaumont Patch file photo. Credit: Renee Schiavone

A jury was seated Wednesday for the trial of an ex-cop accused of firing a pepper spray gun so close to a Beaumont woman's face that it permanently blinded her.

Enoch Clark, 38, could face more than 20 years in prison if convicted of the disabling assault on 32-year-old Monique Hernandez on Feb. 21, 2012.

After two days of screening prospects, Riverside County Superior Court Judge Mac Fisher swore in a panel to hear evidence in the trial, which is expected to last several weeks. Opening statements are scheduled for 9 a.m. Thursday.

Clark was indicted in April 2012 on charges of assault resulting in great bodily injury, assault by a peace officer, assault with a non-lethal weapon and unnecessary force causing injury, with allegations of using a weapon during a felony and producing great bodily injury in the course of a crime. He is free on $50,000 bail.

According to the District Attorney's Office, sheriff's detectives determined that Clark had fired his JPX pepper gun -- which resembles a Star Trek Phaser and ejects propellant at 400 mph -- 10 inches from Hernandez's face in the process of trying to arrest her, damaging both her eyes. The recommended range to fire a JPX device is six to 16 feet from a target.

Prosecutors said the lawman had been trained in the proper use of the weapon.

Los Angeles-based civil attorney Milton Grimes is representing the injured woman and her family in a civil suit filed in federal court.

"There was no justification for using such gross and excessive force," Grimes said.

U.S. District Judge Harry Pregerson in Los Angeles is presiding over that case, which is still in discovery.

On the day of the alleged assault, Hernandez had driven her younger sister to pick up the woman's 2-year-old daughter, who was visiting her biological father, according to court papers.

During the ensuing child custody exchange, Hernandez's sister and ex- boyfriend got into an argument, resulting in the latter grabbing the woman, at which point Hernandez intervened and scuffled with the man, prompting his mother to call the police.

Hernandez left the location with her sister and the 2-year-old, and when they arrived at her parents' house a few minutes later, Clark was waiting to question her about what had happened during the child custody exchange, Grimes said.

"For whatever reason, this officer decides to give her a field sobriety test," he said. "Then he tries to give her a Breathalizer test, but the unit is not working right, so finally he decides to arrest her for being under the influence."

Prosecutors allege that while in the process of cuffing Hernandez, Clark pulled his pepper spray pistol and fired point-blank into the woman's face.

She suffered a split cornea in one eye and a severely damaged optical nerve, according to Grimes, adding that the mother of one can make out light but cannot see shapes or anything distinct.

— City News Service.

Justice served May 10, 2014 at 08:38 PM
Don't believe everything you read. The other half of this sad story was left out . 1 she fled the scene of an assault with a minor not in a safety seat 2 drove wreck less to avoid police throughout Beaumont reaching speeds of 90 mph 3 the assaulted party called the police reporting the DUI. She was already hostile what makes you think she was such a law abiding citizen? Now if she wrecked the car killing the child and gave resistance to cops got sprayed and lost her sight. Either way cop was doing his job god bless him
Jack Smith May 11, 2014 at 12:34 AM
god says 'good job'?
Judith Kenny July 18, 2014 at 12:10 PM
Why is the whole truth being told here. She was drunk, left the scene of an assault and drove like a fool baby not in car seat and resisted arrest. I am sorry the pepper bilnded her but she got what she asked for. NOW she is a victim looking for $$$$ because of her own actions. This cop s the victim. She belongs in jail and then right on to prison. I am disgusted by this reporting by Patch. Guess we know whose side they have taken.
Washy July 18, 2014 at 04:59 PM
Prove she was drunk All of the blood work at the hospital and not one showed she was drunk hmmm the person who made the police report of the assault was charged with a false police report so was there an assault? She was a hard working productive member of society and was blinded by a cop when he had a hold of both her wrists.....because she was verbally resisting (?) You do get Judith she was BENT OVER THE HOOD OF THE CAR when the office committed the assault on her
Ken July 18, 2014 at 11:56 PM
Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive. - Sir Walter Scott ...First he was off balance and then he feared for his life and then he thought his eyes were in imminent danger from being scratched out....And what did his Lawyer say? That his training on this weapon was completely inadequate and his understanding was even more deficient because of translation issues. Hmmm lets see now...Just how many tools do you need on that belt with a "Go get 'em attitude and apparently very little aptitude?" Ms Judith, with all due respect, I suggest you Google the following "JPX gunpowder propelled weapons" for an alternative perspective that you may be unaware of.


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »