Reading, PA – A Pennsylvania police officer has been charged after surveillance videos showed him punching a woman during a traffic stop last month. The officer and his attorney claim he is the victim, despite the overwhelming video evidence.
On April 5th, Officer Jesus Santiago-De Jesus of the Reading police department stopped Marcelina Clinton-Garcia and her boyfriend, Joel Rodriquez, stating they didn’t use their blinker when pulling to the side of the road. ABC’s report, which focused largely on Santiago-De Jesus’s defense, stated only that the couple began recording Officer Santiago-De Jesus after exiting their vehicle, and that a verbal disagreement over the traffic stop became argumentative. Later reports supply additional details though, and apparently the argument was over the make of Clinton-Garcia’s vehicle, which the officer insisted was a Honda when it was in fact a Mitsubishi.
Clinton-Garcia can be seen in one of the five surveillance videos that caught the incident pointing to the Mitsubishi insignia on the bumper. Officer Santiago-De Jesus lied on his report and stated his reason for pulling the couple over was because they didn’t use their blinker (one of the surveillance videos shows that the couple actually did have their blinker on).
During the argument that developed between the officer and the couple, Clinton-Garcia began recording Officer Santiago-De Jesus, and as can be seen from the surveillance videos, it was at this point he began wrestling Clinton-Garcia, ripping her phone from her hand, slamming it on the ground, and then punching her multiple times. Santiago-De Jesus lied again and said Clinton-Garcia assaulted him (so far, non of the surveillance videos show this).
Clinton-Garcia was taken to the hospital and treated for the head injuries she obtained during the altercation, and then both she and Rodriquez faced multiple charges after being arrested. The couple later filed a complaint against Officer Santiago-De Jesus which spurred an investigation, and subsequently led to the discovery of the surveillance videos. Clinton-Garcia’s and Rodriquez’s charges were all dropped.
In the meantime, Officer Santiago-De Jesus is on paid administrative leave pending an internal investigation. According to District Attorney John T. Adams, Santiago-De Jesus has been in trouble before for trying to prevent citizens from recording him.
In a statement from the D.A.:
“This interaction between police and citizens escalated with police behavior. In policing, we need to de-escalate confrontational interactions. We really get no satisfaction in filing charges against a fellow law enforcement officer, but we will not permit the integrity of the criminal justice system to be compromised by an officer’s behavior.”
Officer Santiago-De Jesus is facing charges of official oppression, attempted tampering with/fabricating evidence, false reports to law enforcement, unsworn falsification to authorities and criminal mischief.
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