High schooler Pedro Hernandez has been targeted by the NYPD for years
Beyond abstract debates surrounding Nazis and racists, there are the actual lives of some Americans who have endured unbelievable punishment at the hands of their country. Some stories are such appalling examples of injustice that they boggle the mind, and make a person fear for their own safety, and the safety of their own children.
Pedro Hernandez has one of those stories. A straight-As high-school kid from the Bronx, he has spent the majority of his adolescent life being arrested, despite every charge against him being dismissed. Against all odds, cases accusing Hernandez of assault, robbery and murder continued to recur every few months, and he was powerless to stop the stream of false accusations.
It all started on December 15th, 2014, when Pedro was hanging out on 168th street. This was where he had his first of many fateful encounters with New York City's 42nd Precinct. What followed is heartbreaking to even describe. It is the story of a child's freedom being destroyed.
Police pulled up to Pedro and his friends in an unmarked vehicle, instructing him to get in. After much hesitation, Pedro stepped into the vehicle, at which point it crawled forward 30 inches, and police sirens flashed behind him. He was being set up in the most insane and unbelievable way possible. But there was a reason for it.
Pedro was accused of having a gun inside the unmarked car he had just been ordered to step into. So he was arrested, and he was taken to the New Bridge Non-Secure Detention Center. The center? It's a house owned by the police with bars on the windows. There, Pedro was brutally beaten by police. It's almost too insane to believe, except that there's proof right here.
The officer, Gregory Hyman, was fired, but faced no charges because the District Attorney of the Bronx kept the video secret for 20 months.
So, by 2016, Pedro had been arrested and released five separate times. Each time, his mother, a woman who once wanted to become a police officer, would have to bail him out and save him. From accusations of shootings, attempted murder and armed robbery, Pedro Hernandez was constantly being arrested, and random victims from shootings all across the Bronx would be pressured by police to say that Hernandez was the one who shot them. Here's the proof:
So, where is Pedro Hernandez now? Well, he was just bailed out of Rikers after serving a 13-month sentence for the alleged murder of Shawn Nardoni. The Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights group posted his $100,000 bail out of a crisis of conscience. But he's still on trial for the murder of Shawn Nardoni.
In the final twist of the dagger, his own mother, Jessica Perez, who had protected him for so long from these false charges, was arrested.
Why was she really arrested? Well, that reason returns to the origins of this twisted story, when Hernandez was forced into the unmarked car in 2014 and accused of gun possession.
A cop named David Terrell had been harassing Pedro's mother for months. From Jessica herself:
“I knew we were in trouble when Detective David Terrell of the 42nd Precinct got my cell phone number off of a report from my oldest son and started calling me at home. That was all the way back in 2011. He wouldn’t even pretend to talk about police matters. It started with him literally having the nerve to ask me if I would cook Spanish food for him then it got worse from there. That was in October. I changed my number a few months later because he just wouldn’t let up.”
Now, five women have said that detective David Terrell harassed them, and threatened their children if they wouldn't have sex with him.
Pedro Hernandez, out on bail, is alive, but he's not the same. After 13 months in Rikers, he's been traumatized to his core. He rarely leaves his room and can not eat certain foods that remind him of the jail. Now, is it possible at all that he actually did kill Shawn Nardoni? Not at all. Seven witnesses already identified a different culprit, Charles "CJ" Holmes.
That's the man who seven witnesses identified as the killer of Shawn Nardoni. But police did nothing with the witness testimony, instead compelling false witness against Pedro Hernandez.
I have to thank journalists Shaun King and Manuel Gomez for bringing this terrifying saga to light. If you're wondering what you can do, right now, about this, King had some suggestions:
Read King's full piece here.