The defense attorney of one of the men accused of beating up an off-duty police officer says his client will be cleared. Police Officer Eric Hernandez so badly injured when a group of men beat him at a White Castle that he was seemingly unable to hear an on-duty police officer's request for him to lower his gun, only the other officer to shoot him. The Bronx DA released footage of an interview with the three men who were allegedly harrassing a White Castle employee, only for Hernandez to intervene and a fight to start. Edwin Rivera said that Hernandez never identified himself as a police officer, and then showed he had a gun:
“He’s looking around, and he’s eating his french fries, looking around like he’s about to do something. So that’s when I came and I hit him, and then I threw him to the side — and I didn’t think that all my friends was going to jump in and start kicking.”
The Policeman's Benevolent Association says Rivera's claims are ridiculous, "There is nothing that anyone can say or show me that could come close to justifying the beating ... [the beating] set in motion events that resulted in his death and they must be held fully accountable for it."
The Bronx DA claims that Hernandez was so out of sorts after the beating, he didn't hear responding Police Officer Alfredo Toro's request to drop his gun, causing Toro to shoot him (Hernandez died a couple days after the shooting). The police and Bronx say that Rivera and his friend knew Hernandez was a cop.
Rivera's lawyer, Mark Heller, claims that the city's agenda "was not to look to protect the rights of a defendant — a poor boy from a Bronx family — but to protect the position of a police officer that fires on another police officer.”