A Pennsylvania cop who ripped a phone out of a woman’s hand because she was recording, then slammed it on a sidewalk before punching the woman was arrested Wednesday.
All because another camera recorded Reading police officer Jesus Santiago-DeJesus criminal actions.
Otherwise, he would still be free while the woman, Marcelina Cintron-Garcia, and her boyfriend would still be facing charges.
In fact, Berks County District Attorney John T. Adams said they reviewed a total of five videos before deciding to charge Santiago-DeJesus for the April 5 incident.
But the cop’s lawyer said his client was only trying to protect himself from a phone that could have been a weapon.
Attorney Allan Sodomsky also accused Adams of withholding evidence that would vindicate his client, mainly footage of the woman attacking the officer.
Sodomsky said the portion of the video purportedly showing Cintron-Garcia hitting the officer first wasn’t shown to the media.
“If there are five videos from this incident, where are the other four videos and why haven’t we seen them?” Sodomsky said in an interview in his office shortly after the arraignment.
“All we saw is Officer Santiago in the little clip that was released hitting this woman,” Sodomsky said. “We never saw what happened right before that. We never saw how Officer Santiago was attacked.”
He said the officer was doing what he had to do to take control of the situation. As for the cellphone, his client’s intention was to take it from her, not destroy evidence.
“Now what police officer ever takes someone into custody and allows them to have a cellphone in custody,” he said, adding the cellphone could be used as a weapon.
But will they believe that Santiago-DeJesus conducted a legal stop when he accused her of not using a blinker to parallel park – when the video shows she did use a blinker?
Cintron-Garcia’s recording shows he never even mentioned the blinker as a reason for the stop, even though he wrote it in his report after he ripped her phone from her hand, punched her in the face, then slammed her head into a metal pipe on the ground, requiring her to get stitches at the hospital before she taken to jail where she remained for three days.
The cop also accused Cintron-Garcia of driving a Honda when her registration indicated she drove a Mitsubishi.
“The vehicle comes back to a Mitsubishi,” the cop can be heard saying in her recording, which was extracted from the damaged phone by forensic investigators.
“You’re driving a Honda.”
But Cintron-Garcia was driving a Mitsubishi Mirage, so it’s obvious Santiago-DeJesus is not the smartest of the bunch.
Especially considering he had been disciplined earlier this year for knocking a phone out of a man’s hands who was recording.
Santiago-DeJesus was disciplined previously for stopping someone from recording police interactions on a cellphone, Adams said.
That incident occurred Jan. 2 about midnight inside a home in the 1000 block of North Fifth Street. According to investigators, a 40-year-old man recorded the interaction with police who responded to a report of gunfire.
During a heated exchange with the resident, Santiago-DeJesus knocked the cellphone out of the resident’s hand, they said.
If Cintron-Garcia committed any crime, it was that she was driving without a license, which normally results in a traffic citation.
But she ended up charged with aggravated assault, simple assault and traffic offenses. Her boyfriend, Joel O. Rodriguez was charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.
All charges against the couple were dismissed and now Santiago-DeJesus is being charged with official oppression, attempted tampering with/fabricating evidence, false reports to law enforcement, unsworn falsification to authorities and criminal mischief.
He remains free on paid administrative leave.