GEORGETOWN, Texas (KXAN) — A former Williamson County deputy has been charged with assault and official oppression stemming from the level of force he used against a domestic violence victim in September 2019.
Former Deputy Lorenzo Hernandez, 37, of Cedar Park, was booked in the Williamson County Jail.
KXAN reported on the 2019 incident significantly. Body camera video obtained by KXAN last year shows Williamson County deputies responding to a domestic violence call at an Austin apartment complex.
The video shows a female deputy speaking with the victim. The woman did not appear to cooperate with the investigation, telling WCSO she did not trust the agency.
The victim eventually walks back inside her apartment. Hernandez later showed up to the scene and knocked on the victim’s door. The woman walked out of her apartment blocked the door.
Details of the 2019 domestic violence response that led to the deputy’s arrest
The woman, who asked not to be identified in this report, wouldn’t tell deputies where the man reported in the call went. Deputies called the woman “uncooperative,” and the video shows her trying to hold her door closed as Hernandez pushed his way inside to search the apartment. The woman told deputies the man wasn’t inside.
“Let go of the door, or you’re going to be tased,” the deputies told her.
The woman continued screaming and holding onto the door handle, while deputies tried to handcuff her. Deputies told the woman they were going inside her home to search for an unidentified man involved in the original 911 call.
The video shows the woman yelling as Hernandez placed a hand around her chin and then pushed her head down against a wall. Deputies then attempted to pull the woman’s arm behind her back and put her in handcuffs.
Hernandez and another deputy searched each room, as deputies detained the woman outside.
“We don’t get your cooperation, that is what happens. All this screaming and all this [expletive] does not make us stop,” Hernandez told the woman as he stood in her living room near the end of the video.
Another deputy was uncuffing the woman as Hernandez lectured her.
In the arrest affidavit, a Williamson County detective wrote that the woman Hernandez is accused of assaulting “did not pose a threat.”
“Defendant Hernandez escalates the event through an intentional, unreasonable use of force against [the victim] by placing his hand on her throat directly below her chin,” the affidavit said, adding that Hernandez then squeezed her throat and pushed her back into the apartment wall.
“The intentional use of force by Defendant Hernandez by placing his hand on the throat of [the victim] is unlawful, as no exception provides Defendant Hernandez the justification for the use of said force.”
KXAN has tried to identify and reach out to Hernandez’s attorney about his arrest but so far have been unable to find that information.
Hernandez has been a peace officer for more than a decade and did complete training in de-escalation techniques. The affidavit states because of this Hernandez should have known what he was doing was against the law.
Hernandez was ultimately disciplined in this case for “sustained violation of the Sheriff’s Office Conduct and Behavior policy,” according to WCSO Chief Deputy Tim Ryle.
‘I failed her in my service’
Hernandez sat down for an exclusive interview about his arrest and charges with KXAN Investigative Reporter Jody Barr Monday evening.
Barr: “Did at any point, during that call when you walked up, did you ever lose your cool? Did you ever cross the line where you knew, you know, ‘I should not be doing this right now’?”
Hernandez: “My professionalism, yes. It went out the window.”
Barr: “The video in and of itself sounds bad, looks bad. I mean, a domestic violence victim calling for help, she ends up on the ground under deputies and in handcuffs… you know how this video looks to the public.”
Hernandez: “Absolutely, absolutely. And I don’t want to take anything away from that. It does sound bad.”
Barr: “Did you believe in the moment that night that anything that you were doing was criminal?”
Barr: “You heard the sheriff call you essentially a bad cop. Is there anything you want the public to know about Lorenzo Hernandez?”
Hernandez: “First and foremost, I send my apology to the victim. I failed her in my service. Overall, to the people that I worked with, then at the time that still remain at the sheriff’s office, they’re good folks. Because they’re good cops there. I didn’t make life any easier for them. Then and probably now. I accept accountability for that, and I can’t take it back. And I will carry that with me, even if I’m not allowed to go in law enforcement ever, that will always remain as one of my regrets.”
Hernandez is free on a $10,000 bond. The former deputy said he hopes to continue in law enforcement and plans to see his prosecution through to a jury trial.
Hernandez also a responding deputy in case featured on Live PD that prompted lawsuit
Hernandez was also one of five deputies involved in a June 14, 2019 “Live PD” broadcast on A&E that showed the use-of-force arrest of Ramsey Mitchell.
Deputies pulled Mitchell over for not having a front license plate and told him to turn his car off and stay seated, according to a lawsuit filed against the sheriff’s office. The lawsuit states the deputies then called for “Live PD” camera crews to come to the scene.
The “Live PD” broadcast then shows deputies ask Mitchell to get out of his car. When he did, Mitchell turned to run. During the arrest, Mitchell was kneed, punched, choked, wrestled and stunned with a stun gun by four deputies. Mitchell went limp.
Then Hernandez joined the other four deputies. He could be seen jumping and landing on Mitchell with a knee before punching him several times in the back. At this point, Mitchell appeared to be unconscious, lying face-down in a pool of blood.