Evaluation ordered for WNY man after police shootout and standoff

JERSEY CITY -- A judge on Monday ordered that a West New York man undergo a psychological evaluation after authorities say he tried to shoot two police officers then barricaded himself in his basement for a 12-hour armed standoff last week. State Superior...

Evaluation ordered for WNY man after police shootout and standoff

JERSEY CITY -- A judge on Monday ordered that a West New York man undergo a psychological evaluation after authorities say he tried to shoot two police officers then barricaded himself in his basement for a 12-hour armed standoff last week.

State Superior Court Judge Paul DePascale ordered the evaluation at the request of Emmanual Hernanez's lawyer, who told the judge that Hernandez was a U.S. Army veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afganistan who suffered from post traumatic stress disorder.

The lawyer, Peter Willis, made the request during what was originally scheduled to be a detention hearing in Jersey City on Monday afternoon.

"We don't want a detention hearing today," said Willis, who took over as Hernandez's lawyer Monday from defense attorney Mario Blanch. "Your Honor, my client has a history of emotional issues that have been taken care of by the Veterans Administration."

DePascale ordered Hernandez held without bail pending the results of the psychological assessment.

"You understand, your client will remain in detention?" DePascale asked Willis.

Willis said yes, and waved his client's right to Monday's hearing, which will be rescheduled.

Hernandez, 27, is charged with two counts of attempted murder of a police officer, unlawful possession of a firearm, possession of a firearm for an unlawful purpose, eluding, resisting arrest, and aggravated assault on a police officer.

Prosecutors say it was early on a Sunday morning, Feb. 5, when North Bergen Police officers responded to a call of a man in a red Infiniti with a gun.

Proscutors say the officers encountered the man, Hernandez, who then fled, running over the foot of one of them, before driving to his home in West New York. Prosecutors say Hernandez fired at the officers, who returned fire, though no one was hit.

Proseuctors say Hernandez barricaded himself in his basement for a 12-hour standoff, before finally surrendering. West New York Mayor Felix Roque, a physician who once treated Hernandez's father, spoke briefly to him before his surrender.

DePascale granted the request for the psychological assessmet, though he said he would wait for the results before ordering a psychiatric evaluation that Willis also requested, potentially to be used for an insanity defense.  

"I'm going to order the psychological assessment first," said DePascale, who stipulated that it be conducdted within 14 days.

The judge held off on setting a date for a new detention hearing, pending the results of the psychological assessment.

DePascale also granted Willis' request that Hernandez be seen by a doctor so that he could be prescribed medication he had been taking for his post-traumatic stress disorder.

The assistant Hudson County prosecutor handling the case, Leo Hernandez -- no relation to the defendant -- did not object to the psychological evaluation. The prosecutor later said he had no independent knowledge of the defendant's military record or his psychiatric history.

Willis said his client's family was from New Jersey, but that he had lived in Texas following his honorable discharge from the Army. Willis said Hernandez had legally obtained the weapon he was accused of using in the shooting while he lived in Texas, but he could not comment on its ownership status in New Jersey.

Steve Strunsky may be reached at sstrunsky@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @SteveStrunsky. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

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