FBI agent who opened fire on police gets jail for what judge calls a ‘tragic circumstance'

FBI shooting sentence

GRAND RAPIDS, MICH. - An FBI agent from Las Vegas who opened fire on a Grand Rapids police officer during what was described as a “paranoid kind of fit’’ was sentenced to jail and probation Thursday for what the judge called a “tragic circumstance.’’

“Anytime anyone takes a shot at any peace officer, being locked up is a reality,’’ Kent County Circuit Court Judge Dennis B. Leiber said.

That came despite a recommendation from the Kent County Prosecutor’s Office that Ruben Manuel Hernandez spend no time behind bars for assault with a dangerous weapon. The recommendation came during a February plea hearing.

“I could not in good conscience follow the prosecutor’s recommendation of no jail,’’ the judge said.

Hernandez was given the option of withdrawing his plea and taking the case to trial. He declined, saying he wanted to put the matter behind him.

“I am just tired, sir. I’m tired of being tired,’’ Hernandez told the judge. “I just want to move on with my life. Me and my family want to move on and put this behind us and rebuild our lives.’’

Leiber sentenced Hernandez to 135 days in jail with credit for one day served. He also placed Hernandez on probation for two years.

“You’re a man who lived an exemplary life up until the day this incident occurred,’’ Leiber said. “And once the horror of your actions were revealed to you, I believe the contrition and remorse that you expressed is heartfelt and sincere.’’

Sentencing guidelines recommended a jail term of up to six months. Defense attorney Larry C. Willey asked that Hernandez be sentenced at the low end of the guidelines.

“There is something to be thankful for here. No one was injured; no one was hurt,’’ Willey said. “The Grand Rapids Police Department showed a good deal of restraint and skill that resulted in Mr. Hernandez himself not being injured.’’

Willey said his client did not aim at police when he opened fire; a point the prosecution disputes.

“It is our position that he did aim at the officer,’’ Kent County Assistant Prosecutor Kimberly A.  Richardson told the court.

Hernandez, 35, arrived in Michigan on Dec. 5 for an investigative assignment and was slated to return to Nevada on Dec. 7.  He had been drinking prior to the shooting.

Grand Rapids police were called to Planet Fitness, 3681 28th St. SE early Dec. 6 after receiving 911 calls about a man seen brandishing a gun inside the fitness center. Police say Hernandez fired three rounds before he was arrested in a parking lot near 28th Street and East Beltline Avenue SE. The arrest was caught on police video.

Willey earlier said said Hernandez was experiencing a “paranoid kind of fit’’ when he fired a handgun at Grand Rapids Police Sgt. Neil Gomez from a distance of about 30 to 35 yards.

Hernandez, an eight-year veteran of the FBI with a spotless record, was arraigned on two assault charges, including assault with intent to commit great bodily harm less than murder, a 10-year felony.

In exchange for a no contest plea to assault with a dangerous weapon, a four-year offense, prosecutors dropped the more serious charge and a misdemeanor count of brandishing a firearm in public.

Hernandez lost his job as an FBI agent in Las Vegas. Leiber said he has no problem with Hernandez serving out his probation in Nevada once his jail sentence is completed.

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