At Least 19 Memphis Officers Failed to Find Man’s Body in Van

During a stretch of 49 days, 19 Memphis police officers and an impound lot employee never saw the body of Bardomiano Perez Hernandez in the back of a van towed to the city lot after an attempted robbery in Binghamton last year.

Perez Hernandez suffered a single gunshot wound to his torso during the robbery, and the attorney representing Perez Hernandez’s family says the oversight contributed to the victim’s death.

“Bardo never had a chance. He died alone. He bled out,” said Aaron Neglia, an attorney with Horne and Wells, representing Perez Hernandez’s family. “We believe he could have survived if he had medical treatment and he would be with his daughter today. But because he was overlooked, he never had that chance and I think that is awful.”

A review of the case and the personnel records of those involved provides a picture of the events after the shooting.

The Officers
The officers who responded to the scene according to MPD were:

Lt. Frederick Acosta – With MPD since 1993
Sgt. Lee Allison – With MPD since 1998
Officer Jeffrey Arthur – With MPD since 2007
Officer Bradley Baird – With MPD since 2017
Officer Brian Barnes – With MPD since 2007
Officer Marcus Blanton – With MPD since 2009
Officer Matthew Christopher – With MPD since 2011
Lt. Tim Goodroe – With MPD since 1997
Officer Keeley Greer – With MPD since 2006
Lt. Shawn Hicks – With MPD since1994
Lt. Brian Jones – With MPD since 1993
Sgt. Nathaniel Jones – With MPD since 2001
Officer Erik Mettler – With MPD since 2012
John Powell – Impound lot employee
Officer Thomas Ray – With MPD since 2009
Officer Michael Rodriguez – With MPD 2013
Officer Steve Theriac – With MPD since 2007
Officer David Wagner – With MPD since 2008
Officer Lee Walker – With MPD since 1994
Sgt. Kevin Williams – With MPD since 1999

The officers are patrolmen and ranked officers who range in experience from a year on the force to 25 years with the Memphis Police Department.

The Commercial Appeal reviewed the personnel records and internal affairs records for the officers. Four of the officers — Baird, Greer, Powell and Rodriguez — did not have internal affairs files. The other 15 officers were previously investigated at one point by MPD’s internal affairs bureau after they were accused of violations of police policy and procedures.

The prior infractions range from wrecking police cars to not turning on body cameras during an arrest. Some were investigated for excessive use of force, but the charges were not sustained in the cases.

On their evaluations, the officers performed above or met their job requirements; with some receiving many commendations over the years for their work.

Two — Officer Steve Theriac and Officer David Wagner — were involved in two officer-involved shootings and another officer pleaded guilty to crashing an ATV while drunk and injuring a passenger on the vehicle with him.

No disciplinary action was taken against Theriac in the 2009 fatal shooting of 38-year-old Thomas Burton, whose death was ruled a justifiable homicide.

Three years later, Theriac and Wagner were cleared in a 2012 fatal shooting of 38-year-old Dewayne Bailey. Police ruled the shooting was self-defense based on police saying Bailey woke up from sleeping in his car and tried to run-over the officers. He was shot four times by the officers and died.

Officer Thomas Ray, assigned to the Tillman Station precinct, was fired in 2013 when he was indicted on charges of vehicular assault, reckless aggravated assault and possession of a handgun while under the influence related to the ATV crash in 2012 in Fayette County.

Ray pleaded guilty to the charge of reckless driving and was sentenced to six months in jail, but served only 30 days in the Fayette County Jail. He also pleaded no contest to the charges and was sentenced to 11 months, 29 days supervised probation. He was placed on diversion for the reckless endangerment and possession of a handgun charge.

He was charged with violating MPD’s adherence to law policy in 2013 after an administrative hearing based on the incident in Fayette County.

“The actions, judgement and behavior of Officer Thomas Ray has caused damage and embarrassment to the Memphis Police Department as well as the city of Memphis,” Memphis police officials wrote. “The image of a Memphis police officer performing duties Monday-Friday and being incarcerated in the Fayette County Jail on Saturday and Sunday is not acceptable and it further erodes the image of the Memphis Police Department and it violates the Memphis Police Department’s code of Ethics.”

Ray was later rehired by MPD and was re-assigned to Tillman Station in 2017. He was placed on long-term absence on Jan. 18, 2018, a month after Perez Hernandez was shot and his body left in the back of the van that was towed to police department’s impound lot, where it remained for seven weeks.

Shooting at Maureen Manor
The impound lot incident unfolded on a frigid night on Dec. 18 in the parking lot of the Maureen Manor apartment complex, according to an incident report.

Officer Jeffrey Arthur was the first officer to make the scene on the aggravated assault call about the shooting shortly before 9:30 p.m.

Arthur found Pablo Castor sitting in the driver’s seat of a white 2001 Econoline van in the parking lot in the 3000 block of Yale Avenue in Binghamton.

Castor suffered three gunshot wounds, twice in the neck and once in the torso.

Arthur started first-aid on Castor and called Memphis Fire Department.

The fire department took Castor to the Regional Medical Center where he survived his gunshot wounds, but was in the hospital for nearly two months.

At the crime scene, more police arrived and began their investigation. They learned that Castor and another man, Florensio Perez, were sitting in the van, drinking beer and listening to music when two men attempted to rob them, according to the incident report.

Shots were fired, and the two gunmen fled on foot. Authorities later arrested Mardracus West, 19, and Earl Brown, 20, charging them in connection with the shooting.

Officers found gunshot damage on the driver’s side of the van parked on the west side of the apartment complex.

Crime Scene Investigators were notified and sent Officer Lee Walker and Lt. Nathaniel Jones. Walker and Jones took photos and collected evidence, according to an incident report on the shooting.

Felony Response detective Sgt. Lee Allison arrived on the scene and advised. Lt. Frederick Acosta, a supervisor at the Tillman Station, also arrived.

Officer Theriac, another Tillman station precinct officer, completed the crime scene log.

But nowhere in the log nor in the incident report was any mention that a third man, Perez Hernandez, lay in the back of the van bleeding from a gunshot wound.

Called “Bardo” by friends and family, Perez Hernandez would not be found until 49 days later when the wounded driver, Castor, was released from the hospital Feb. 5 and went to the Memphis police impound lot to retrieve his van before it was auctioned by the city.

Castor was shocked and dismayed to find his friend’s decaying body in the van.

The Aftermath
The discovery of Perez Hernandez’s body was called “unacceptable” by Memphis Police Director Michael Rallings and Mayor Jim Strickland. They vowed to get to the bottom of what happened.

The Memphis Police Association, the union for police officers, said they empathized with the family of the victim, but pointed out the department has a police shortage from patrol officers to higher-ranked officers.

“You have crime scene investigators who are working double shifts and when you are tired and shorthanded, stuff is going to get missed,” Essica Cage, association vice president, told The Commercial Appeal in an interview on Feb. 7. “This is the worst-case scenario. But, it happened and that’s where we are now,”

An internal investigation continues on why the officers failed to locate the victim in the back of the van. All the officers remain on the job, and only one has been demoted, Lt. Nathaniel Jones, crime scene investigator.


If you haven't already, be sure to like our Filming Cops Page on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Please visit our sister site Smokers ONLY

Sign Up To Receive Your Free E-Book
‘Advanced Strategies On Filming Police’

About author

Filming Cops
Filming Cops 5618 posts

Filming Cops was started in 2010 as a conglomerative blogging service documenting police abuse. The aim isn’t to demonize the natural concept of security provision as such, but to highlight specific cases of State-monopolized police brutality that are otherwise ignored by traditional media outlets.

You might also like