According to the indictment, Officer Enoch Clark was on duty on Feb. 21 and was investigating a possible driving under the influence incident.
Clark was attempting to handcuff a female suspect and an altercation developed between the two. According to the indictment, Clark pulled out a less-than-lethal device issued by the Beaumont Police Department called a JPX.
The JPX uses gunpowder to propel a stream of pepper-spray at a speed of more than 400 mph. The optimum distance to deploy the device is between 6 and 16 feet, with a minimum distance of 5 feet. Clark allegedly deployed the device 10 inches from the woman's face. The woman's eyes were severely injured, and medical reports indicate it is doubtful the woman will see again.
The Beaumont Police Dept. requested an incident investigation by the Riverside County Sheriff's Dept. The results of the investigation were forwarded to the district attorney's office, and the case was brought to a grand jury made up of 19 members of the community.
After reviewing evidence and testimony, the grand jury returned four criminal counts against Clark: assault under the color or authority; assault with a less lethal weapon; use of force causing serious bodily injury; and assault with force likely to cause great bodily injury. There is also an enhancement that he personally inflicted great bodily injury.
The investigation showed that Clark had been trained on the proper use of the device and the dangers of using the device at a distance of less than 5 feet.
The Riverside County District Attorney's Office said Clark was arraigned Thursday.
Clark has been placed on administrative leave.
[Photo courtesy: Tom Bray, Press Enterprise]