The Houston Police Department recently released body cam footage of an officer driving onto the sidewalk during a vehicle pursuit and fatally striking an innocent 62-year-old man. According to HPD crash investigators, the officer was “traveling at an unsafe speed” and “performed a faulty evasive action.”
Around 5:40 p.m. on December 4, 2021, Michael Wayne Jackson, 62, was walking to his barber when Officer Orlando Hernandez abruptly swerved his patrol car onto the sidewalk and struck him. According to police, Officer Hernandez approached several cars stopped at a red light at the Reed Road and Scott Street intersection when he swerved onto the sidewalk to avoid a collision with the vehicles.
In Hernandez’s body cam video, the officer stopped the patrol car after crashing into a dumpster in a nearby parking lot. Hernandez and his partner, Officer Anthony Aranda, immediately exited the vehicle and ran toward Jackson, who remained motionless on the ground.
“I need HFD here. I just got wrecked out,” Hernandez said over the radio. “Scott and Reed. One male patient. Not conscious, he’s not breathing. He has bleeding from the head.”
Turning to Jackson, Hernandez shouted, “Sir. Sir. Sir! Wake up, sir!”
A few minutes later, paramedics with the Houston Fire Department arrived and pronounced Jackson dead at the scene. According to medical examiners, Jackson’s primary cause of death was “multiple blunt force injuries,” while his manner of death had been listed as a motor vehicle accident.
In the body cam footage, Hernandez was reportedly driving up to 100 mph with only one hand on the steering wheel. The police cruiser’s windshield wipers were activated by Hernandez while driving in the rain.
Crash investigators with HPD’s vehicular crimes division noted in a crash report that Hernandez was “traveling at an unsafe speed” and “performed a faulty evasive action.”
“It looks like to me, maybe the guys couldn’t drive that well,” the victim’s brother, Timothy Jackson told The Houston Chronicle. “They just weren’t ready. Their skill level in pursuits maybe wasn’t that good, because they came out of the street onto the sidewalk. They put anybody that’s on the sidewalk in danger.”
Both Hernandez and Aranda were placed on administrative duty pending a department investigation, which has not yet been concluded. Prosecutors currently have not filed criminal charges against Hernandez for driving recklessly during a police pursuit and killing Jackson.