RIVERSIDE (CBSLA.com) — A Riverside County judge Tuesday declared a mistrial after jurors failed to come to a verdict in the trial of a former police officer who reportedly blinded a woman with pepper spray.
After four days of deliberations, jurors were deadlocked 10-2 in favor of convicting Enoch Clark, who is charged with using excessive force against motorist Monique Hernandez during a stop that led to her drunk driving arrest in February 2012.
Video released to CBS2 by Hernandez’s family shows the woman in excruciating pain shortly after she was blinded by the spray as she was taken in for treatment.
The trial wrapped up last week with the prosecution showing dash-cam video of the arrest and the incident. That video is still not available to the public.
The District Attorney’s Office has until July 24 to decide if it will retry the 38-year-old ex-policeman.
“It wasn’t the pepper spray that actually caused the blindness. It was the fact that this device uses a high velocity gun powder in order to propel the pepper spray,” Riverside County District Attorney’s Office spokesperson John Hall told KCAL9’s Tom Wait.
Clark, who claims Hernandez resisted arrest, could spend seven years in prison if convicted in a later trial.
Hernandez said she hoped to see that day, although she noted no verdict could bring back her eyesight.
“I’m just a little disappointed, but we’ll just see what happens in the future,” she said. “Either way it goes, I won’t get my eyesight back, so I would have hoped it would have come out better. But like I said, try it again.”
Holding back tears, Juror No. 8, who asked to remain nameless, meanwhile told KCAL9’s Crystal Cruz he’s broken up following the mistrial.
“I just wanted to give them my blessings and know that my heart felt for them,” he said. “We all agreed that she made bad judgements. But the damage that was done. The way it happened. I think it was way excessive force.”
Juror No. 8 was one of then 10 jurors who found Clark guilty. Failing to agree on Clark’s fate, he said, was a “hard decision on all of us.”
“We all didn’t want to convict him. He’s a police officer. He puts his life at risk every day for us. But at the end of the day, nobody’s above the law,” he said.
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