Jury convicts driver of dragging, injuring Lawrence police officer after argument at traffic stop
A jury on Thursday convicted a driver of dragging and injuring a Lawrence police officer with his car, according to a news release from the Douglas County District Attorney’s Office.
The driver, Aramis N. Hernandez, 38, of Topeka, was found guilty of battery on a law enforcement officer in a July 5, 2016, incident that began with a traffic stop in the 1100 block of Rhode Island Street and ended with the officer being dragged alongside a car.
According to testimony, the officer had pulled Hernandez over for failing to yield the right-of-way at a stop sign. When the officer asked Hernandez for his driver’s license, Hernandez told the officer that he “didn’t need” a license. The officer explained that a license was required. Hernandez continued to argue that under “common law” it was not necessary.
The interaction between the two was recorded by the camera system in the officer’s vehicle, which showed that after a few minutes, Hernandez started to pull away with the officer hanging onto the side of the vehicle, resulting in injury. Hernandez then drove off.
The officer was treated at Lawrence Memorial Hospital for contusions and abrasions and was released later that day.
Hernandez was later discovered in a correctional facility in Colorado and was returned to Lawrence.
According to the Douglas County District Attorney’s Office, Hernandez faces 11 to 34 months in prison, depending on his prior criminal history. Sentencing is set for Dec. 21.
As the Journal-World previously reported, at the time of the dragging incident, Hernandez already was on bond — and had failed to appear in court — for similar cases. According to prosecutors:
In November 2014, an officer saw Hernandez driving on the wrong side of the street near Eighth and Vermont streets. Hernandez led the officer on a car chase that involved speeding, weaving and running a stop sign before ending in a “high risk traffic stop.” Hernandez was charged with DUI, possession of marijuana, fleeing police and other crimes.
In June 2015, Hernandez was driving without his required ignition interlock device when he was involved in an accident on Interstate 70. He was charged with DUI, possession of marijuana and tampering with the interlock device.
In July 2015, a Douglas County Sheriff’s deputy stopped a brand-new baby blue Ford Mustang, from which an “overwhelming smell” of marijuana emanated. The deputy discovered that the driver, Hernandez, had a federal warrant for his arrest. As a back-up deputy was arriving, Hernandez took off, leading law enforcement on a chase that reached 130 mph before being called off “because of the threat to public safety.” Hernandez was charged with fleeing police and speeding.
Prosecutors also said in court documents that Hernandez had prior felony cases for fleeing police in Shawnee County and robbery in Sedgwick County.