Md. police officer on trial after pointing gun at man’s head

UPPER MARLBORO, Md. — A Prince George’s County police officer is on trial Tuesday after pointing a gun at a Bowie resident’s head more than a year ago. Part of the confrontation was caught on cellphone video.

In May 2014, William Cunningham and his cousin were sitting in a car parked on the street outside of Cunningham’s home in Bowie, Maryland.

The cellphone footage shows Officer Jenchesky Santiago pointing his department-issued handgun to Cunningham’s head and repeatedly yelling at him to get back into his cousin’s vehicle.

Officer Santiago searched the vehicle and Cunningham as well as his cousin. Santiago later handcuffed Cunningham.

Cunningham testified that the officer told them they were illegally parked, even though they had parked there without issue in the past.

Cunningham was neither arrested nor charged with a crime.

On Tuesday, Cunningham testified he feared for his life and the officer acted aggressively. He has filed a civil suit against the officer as well.

The defense attorney says Santiago violated department policy and should not be a police officer, but he argues Cunningham defied the officer’s orders, had an attitude and even dared the officer to fight him at one point.

Santiago, a three-year veteran of the department, is charged with two counts of assault and misconduct in office.

The prosecution rested Tuesday. Santiago is expected to take the stand Wednesday.

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