Four years after a Pasadena police officer shot a driver in the face as the man fled a traffic stop, surveillance and dash cam videos of the incident are being seen by a jury in the now former officer’s trial for official oppression.
Michael Martin, now 45, faces a misdemeanor charge for the July 22, 2011 incident that happened during a Pasadena Police Department traffic enforcement emphasis.
He wasn’t indicted until June 2013 and the trial, which could land him a year in jail if convicted, began Tuesday in Harris County Criminal Court.
Martin was terminated from the Pasadena Police Department January of 2012 after an internal review showed this his description of the events did not match the surveillance and dash cam videos now being played for a jury.
Martin pulled over Victor Hernandez, then 19, as a suspected drunk driver.
Hernandez’ truck can be seen on video from a convenience store surveillance camera briefly coming to a stop, but then speeding away after Martin approached the driver’s side window.
Hernandez, who is expected to testify during the trial, has said in previous statements that he feared for his life when the officer pulled his gun.
Martin claims the driver made a suspicious move with one hand and that the driver attempted to run him over. He can be heard over police radios during the resulting chase making that statement about the driver for the first time.
Hernandez was shot once in the face, the bullet entering one cheek and out the other. Photos displayed on the first day of the trial show another apparent bullet hole in the side of the driver’s truck.
And the final shot fire by the officer can be seen on the surveillance video. The muzzle flash can be clearly seen – fired several yards behind the vehicle as it sped away from the gas station/convenience store.
Dash cam video from another officer’s car, also shown on the first day of the trial, shows the 10-minute high speed chase that followed.
Hernandez finally pulls over several miles later, and with several Pasadena officer’s pointing guns at him, steps out of his truck and surrenders.
He lies face-down on the pavement, his face and the interior of his truck bloodied from the bullet wound.
The trial resumes Wednesday morning with additional videos expected to be played for the jury and with Martin’s defense trying to prove he fired because he justifiably feared for his life.