Douglas County District Attorney Charles Branson announces that today a jury convicted Topeka resident Aramis N. Hernandez, 38, of battery on a law enforcement officer in the July 2016 dragging injury of a Lawrence Police Officer.
On July 5, 2016 at about 4:45 p.m. a Lawrence Police officer in a marked police car and in a police uniform attempted to conduct a traffic stop on a white Ford Fusion with Missouri plates. The driver of the car, who was later identified as Hernandez, failed to yield the right-of-way at a stop sign. After explaining the reason for the stop, the officer asked Hernandez for his driver’s license. Hernandez told the officer that he, “didn’t need a license,” and then went on to tell the officer he was, “traveling.” The officer explained that to operate a motor vehicle on a roadway in Kansas that a license is required. Hernandez continued to argue that under “common law,” it was not necessary. The officer advised Hernandez that if he did not provide some form of identification that he would be arrested and placed in handcuffs for interference with the duties of a law enforcement officer.
The interaction was being recorded by the in-car camera system located on the officer’s vehicle. The video shows that after about four and a half minutes, Hernandez starts to pull away in the vehicle. The officer attempts to stop Hernandez, but Hernandez continues to drive the vehicle with the officer hanging onto the side of the vehicle. It appears that Hernandez drives the vehicle into the opposite lane and toward parked cars in an effort to brush the officer off the car. Video shows the officer rolling after he falls from the vehicle and continuing to slide on the asphalt. Video also shows Hernandez then moves the vehicle back to the correct lane of travel and drives off at what appears to be a high rate of speed.
After rolling out of the way of traffic, the officer was able to call Emergency Communications and an ambulance was dispatched. The officer was treated at Lawrence Memorial Hospital for contusions and abrasions and he was released later that day.
The jury trial in the Division Four Courtroom began on Wednesday, December 5. Opening statements were delivered Wednesday afternoon. The trial continued through the remainder of Wednesday and into Thursday morning. Closing statements were delivered shortly after 10:00 a.m. and the jury received the case at approximately 10:45. The jury deliberated for approximately three hours before returning its verdict.
Based upon Kansas Sentencing Guidelines Hernandez faces 11 to 34 months in the custody of the Secretary of Corrections. His actual sentence will depend on his prior criminal history. The Court ordered his bond revoked, that a pre-sentence investigation be completed, and set sentencing for December 21 at 3:00 p.m. The Court also denied a Motion for Judgment on Acquittal.
The Honorable James R. McCabria presided over the trial. The case was investigated by the Lawrence Police Department and Lawrence –Douglas County Fire Medical Department responded to the accident scene. Assistant District Attorney Alice Walker prosecuted the case.
*Rule 226 - Kansas Rules of Professional Conduct
3.6 Advocate: Trial Publicity
3.8 Advocate: Special Responsibilities of a Prosecutor