A former LAPD officer who violently punched an unarmed Boyle Heights man while responding to a trespassing call two years ago pleaded no contest to assault Thursday, the District Attorney said.

Screenshot from KTLA News video report showing officer Frank Hernández during 2020 arraignment in LA court.

Frank Hernández, 51, will not serve time in jail for the single felony count. Instead, according to the plea agreement announced during a court hearing, he was sentenced to two years of probation, 80 hours of community service and a year of anger management classes.

“Wearing a badge does not give an officer the right to use unreasonable and excessive force. When this happens, it erodes trust in the community and can impact our collective safety,” District Attorney George Gascón said in a released statement. “My office will continue to hold officers accountable when they break the law.”

On April 27, 2020 – in an incident that was videotaped and seen widely on social media – Hernández and a partner responded to a call of a trespasser in a vacant lot in the 400 block of Houston Street. During the officers’ investigation, a fight broke out between Hernández and the unarmed suspect, later identified as Richard Castillo.

An LAPD investigation determined that Hernández hit Castillo more than a dozen times in the head. Castillo was not seriously injured in the beating, but Boyle Heights residents and activists demanded Hernandez’s firing and prosecution after it was revealed that the officer had been previously involved in three shootings.

In June, 2020, Hernández was arrested and charged with assault; he soon thereafter pleaded not guilty and was released without bail. After his arraignment, Hernández had a brief encounter with a Los Angeles Times reporter and said: “I was in fear of imminent danger and acted appropriately.”

The Los Angeles Times reported Thursday that Hernández was “separated” from the LAPD in May of 2021.

Castillo filed a federal lawsuit against the LAPD in 2020, but he was shot and killed in El Sereno in 2021. An attorney for the 30-year-old Castillo told the Times the shooting took place a week before he was to be deposed for the suit. Police have made no arrests in connection to Castillo’s death, and no information has been released on the possible motive for the killing.

One Response

  1. Bette

    I bet Hernandez had Castillo killed. Formerly homeless people like Castillo aren’t just randomly murdered.

    Reply

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