A Maryland police officer who put a gun to a man’s head last year—in an apparent effort to show off for his dumb New Jersey friends—was convicted of first-degree assault and misconduct in office yesterday. The Washington Post reports that the Officer Jenchesky Santiago of the Prince George’s County Police Department will serve at least five years in jail for the conviction.
The PGPD released cellphone video of the terrifying May 2014 incident, which began as a traffic stop, yesterday on YouTube. In the clip, Santiago points his gun right at the victim William Cunningham’s head and yells, “I dare you to fucking fight me, son.”
Witnesses say Santiago also yelled off-camera, “We’re PG police, and we shoot people.”
Prince George County State’s Attorney Angela D. Alsobrooks tells the Post that the incident began when Santiago pulled up outside Cunningham’s home, where Cunningham’s cousin was attempting to drop Cunningham off. Santiago told the two men that their car was parked illegally—it wasn’t—and repeatedly asked them what they were doing there, even after they explained that it was Cunningham’s home.
Per Alsobrooks, Cunningham then said he would go inside and got out of the car. That’s when Santiago parked his car, ran up to Cunningham, and pulled out his gun.
The video above shows the rest of the horrifying incident. Cunningham told the Post of the encounter, “I was shocked. At the instant he pointed the gun to my head, I was shocked...I thought I was going to die right there. I just thought it was over.”
The mandatory minimum sentence for Santiago’s crime is five years without parole, but he could be sentenced to up to 45 years. He has already been suspended from the force without pay. Police Chief Mark Magaw said Santiago’s behavior was “among the worst I’ve seen as Chief of Police” in a statement yesterday.
“Among the worst.”