Woman files for protective order against Assemblyman Hernandez
A woman has filed an emergency protective order against Assemblyman Roger Hernandez, alleging that the West Covina lawmaker had physically abused her and that she feared for her safety, authorities said Monday.
About 7 p.m. Sunday, police responded to a disturbance call at the Lazy Dog restaurant in West Covina, Police Chief Frank Wills said. Hernandez had left the scene by the time authorities arrived, but the woman appeared shaken up.
"The alleged victim made the statement that she was concerned for her personal safety and that Mr. Hernandez was erratic," Wills said.
The woman told officers that she had been the victim of a domestic violence incident in July. She then filed for an emergency protective order, which was approved by a court commissioner and served on Hernandez on Sunday. Wills said police had no report of the alleged incident from July.
Hernandez did not return a call seeking comment. His attorney, Anthony Falangetti, told the San Gabriel Valley Tribune on Monday night that the accusations were "completely false." Falangetti said the charges were politically motivated.
"The timing of these accusations is obviously designed to hurt the Assemblyman in an election which is just a week away," Falangetti told the newspaper. "She alleges an incident occurred back in July, but only now she comes forward for newspaper headlines within days of the election."
Police declined to provide more detail about the incident. But the San Gabriel Valley Tribune report cited the protective order, which claimed Hernandez "struck (the victim) with a belt during an argument. Hernandez also grabbed (her) by her arms and slammed her against the wall causing visible injury."
The woman also "says she fears for her safety due to Hernandez using cocaine," the protective order reads, according to the newspaper. Falangetti called the drug-use allegations "ridiculous."
Wills, the police chief, said his department would decide Tuesday whether to pursue its own investigation or turn the matter over to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.
"It’s important to us that the criminal justice system work fairly and Mr. Hernandez feels he’s being treated fairly by the criminal justice system," Wills said.
Hernandez made headlines this year after he was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving in the Northern California city of Concord. A jury acquitted Hernandez on one count of drunk driving and a judge subsequently dismissed a second charge.
--Michael J. Mishak in Sacramento
Photo: Assemblyman Roger Hernandez (D–West Covina). Credit: Rich Pedroncelli / AP Photo