A Prince George's County police officer was convicted of assault on Dec. 2 for holding a gun to a man's head during an investigatory stop in Bowie, Maryland (video below).
Officer Jenchesky Santiago of the Prince George's County Police Department was found guilty of first- and second-degree assault, misconduct in office and the use of a firearm to commit a violent crime, Fox 5 DC reports.
The charges against Santiago stemmed from an incident on May 10, 2014, when the officer approached a local resident, William Cunningham, who was with his cousin in a parked car in front of his home.
Santiago accused the men of a parking violation, although they had not parked illegally, reports Fox 5.
The officer then reportedly got into an altercation with Cunningham, during which he verbally threatened him and put a gun to his head.
The police department has released a video of the incident, which was taken by the victim's cousin. The brief 49-second clip shows Santiago yelling repeatedly at the man to get back into his car, swearing at him and holding a firearm to his head.
Cunningham, who is black, was not physically harmed in the incident.
Shortly after the confrontation in June, Santiago was suspended from police duty. The department is now in the process of terminating him.
Police Chief Mark Magaw has released an official statement condemning the officer's actions:
"The actions Officer Santiago chose to take that day are his alone. His behavior is flagrant, appalling and isolated. His actions are among the worst I've seen as Chief of Police and that will be taken into account when I make a decision about his employment."
Santiago's wife reportedly sobbed in court following the verdict. After the verdict, the former officer's bail was revoked and he was taken into custody to await sentencing on Jan. 8.
He faces anywhere from five to 45 years in prison for the incident.
During Santiago's trial, prosecutors accused him of assaulting Cunningham to show off for two friends that he had brought on an unauthorized ride-along, according to WUSA.
Santiago told the judge at his trial that he pulled the gun to gain a "tactical advantage" after Cunningham cursed at him and appeared to reach for a weapon at his waist, although the victim denied this in his own testimony.
Santiago said he was disappointed in the verdict but has not yet decided whether he will appeal, WUSA reported.
Cunningham said he was glad video evidence of the incident helped lead to a conviction for Santiago.
“I don't think we would be here today if the video wasn't here," he told Fox 5. "I think that things like this sometimes slip under the radar if you don’t have proof and some kind of evidence to back up what you're saying."
WARNING: Contains strong language.