What to Know
- The teenager has been held on Rikers Island since July, and his mother says the boy sometimes tells her he wants to die
- At least two teenage witnesses told the I-Team they were pressured into lying about the case
- The NYPD says it is conducting an internal investigation
The NYPD says actions of police officers in a Bronx precinct are under internal investigation after a shooting victim and a key witness told NBC 4 New York's I-Team cops there pressured them to lie in a criminal case.
Sixteen-year-old Pedro Hernandez, a high-school student with no criminal record, has been on Rikers Island since July, charged with firing a gun into a crowd in the Morrisania section of the Bronx in September 2015.
The I-Team spoke to the shooting victim, a 17 year-old, who was shot in the leg. He said he did not see the shooter. He claimed one detective threatened him with violence to try and get him to make up a story.
“He wanted me to lie on some light-skinned kid,” he said. “He threatened to push my head into the wall and stuff.”
Another teenager also told the I-Team he was threatened by officers, whom he said had beaten him up before. He said he knew Hernandez from the neighborhood and that he was not the shooter.
“They wanted me to lie on him, to say that it was him,” he said.
A private investigator hired by Hernandez' family, Manuel Gomez, said he obtained videotaped statements from several witnesses who are adamant the teenager was not involved in the shooting. Some of the witnesses identified another neighborhood man as the suspect. Gomez said he provided the evidence he uncovered to the Bronx district attorney's office.
A spokesperson for the district attorney's office said an investigation is ongoing.
Law enforcement sources said Hernandez had been arrested on criminal charges several times, but his attorney said the majority of cases have been dismissed. His attorneys have filed a notice of claim against the city alleging a pattern of harassment and abuse by the NYPD.
“Pedro has been falsely arrested four times in the past year. He’s beaten every case because he didn’t do it,” John Scola said. He added, “Basically, they are trying to pin things on him in order to save face because of a vendetta.”
The city does not respond to notices of claim. The NYPD said the matter is "under review."
Meanwhile, the teenager remains at Rikers, his mother unable to post the $250,000 bond set by judge in the case.
“My son is mentally devastated,” the boy's mother, Jessica Perez, said. “He sometimes tells me he wants to die.”
Hernandez’ next court date is December 1.