A Union County jury has returned a guilty verdict against the man accused of beating a Plainfield police officer unconscious on a city street two years ago, acting Union County Prosecutor Grace H. Park announced Thursday.
Andre Henderson, 38, of Plainfield was convicted on a charge of second-degree aggravated assault following more than a full day of jury deliberation and a three-week trial before state Superior Court Judge Robert J. Mega.
The date was March 11, 2012 when Henderson encountered then-60-year-old Plainfield police officer Israel Valentin as the officer exited his vehicle to mail a letter to his daughter at the downtown post office, according to Union County Assistant Prosecutor Nathan Hewette-Guyton, who prosecuted the case. Without warning, Henderson punched the officer in the head, knocking him to the ground, and started kicking him in the torso and stomping on the officer’s head, Hewette-Guyton said.
A passerby traveling through the area with his wife and children witnessed the incident, grabbed his daughter’s softball bat out of his vehicle, and started hitting Henderson with it, bringing a halt to the attack and distracting him until police arrived moments later, according to the investigation. Henderson was immediately arrested. The good Samaritan, Miguel Garcia, also testified during the trial.
Valentin, a 30-year veteran of the Plainfield Police Division, suffered five broken ribs and a brain bleed as a result of the attack. He spent several days in the hospital and was able to return to light duty following five months of rehabilitation. He remains on the force today.
Henderson is expected to be sentenced on November 7, at which time he will face the possibility of an extended term of up to 20 years in state prison. He will also be required to serve at least 85 percent of his sentence prior to becoming eligible for parole.