The Maryland cop convicted of holding a gun to a man’s head after accusing him of parking illegally was sentenced to five years in prison today.
And only because the 2014 incident was captured on cell phone video, showing Prince George’s County police officer Jenchesky Santiago holding his gun sideways in bonafide gangster style, threatening to kill the man.
The victim, William Cunningham, had only been trying to walk inside his house after stepping out of the passenger’s seat of his friend’s car.
“I thought I was going to die right there,” Cunningham told the Washington Post. “I just thought it was over.”
At the time of the confrontation, Santiago had two friends from New Jersey riding with him in his police car, although he was not authorized to bring along visitors.
“We think, unfortunately, what happened is that he was showing off for his friends,” said Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Angela D. Alsobrooks.
The encounter began when Cunningham’s cousin stopped at Cunningham’s Bowie home to drop him off. The men talked in the car briefly before Santiago pulled up beside them in a cruiser.
Alsobrooks said that Santiago repeatedly asked the men what they were doing there, even after they explained that Cunningham lived in the house.
Santiago told them they were parked illegally — which prosecutors said was not true — and Cunningham said he would get out of the car and go inside.
Cunningham complained to the department, who got the state attorney’s office involved.
The five-year sentence is a minimum mandatory, meaning he will not be eligible for parole for that long. He could have received up to 45 years. He was convicted last year.
Santiago, who has been on unpaid suspension since the incident, was hired in 2012 as part of an effort to clean up the department, which had suspended or disciplined 46 officers in 2010.