MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Attorneys for the family of Bardo Hernandez are seeking justice for the family he left behind.
Hernandez, 33, was shot during an attempted robbery. His body was left undetected for 49 days in a van in a police impound lot until he was discovered a day before the van was put up for auction.
Murray Wells said he told city attorneys on Friday that they were representing Hernandez's family. He said they did not want to make the announcement public to give the city time to release new information or offer condolences or services to the family.
Wells said the city chose not to respond, which is why the lawyers chose to speak up Tuesday.
Wells admitted that their investigation mostly hinges on the results of Hernandez's autopsy, which has not been completed yet.
Wells said Hernandez was found with a single gunshot wound to the abdomen, which he said does not usually constitute an instantaneous death.
While there is no way of knowing if Hernandez was dead or alive when the van was brought to the impound lot until the autopsy is released, this information brought up a concern for Wells.
The driver of the van was shot multiple times in the same shooting. Despite this, he was taken to the hospital, treated, and survived.
Wells said the city of Memphis has a wonderful trauma center, and Regional One has a great chance of saving victims if they are taken to the hospital within an hour.
"There is something called the critical hour. And when someone gets shot, if you can get them to the Med--the gun trauma center--within an hour, the chances of saving that life are so exponentially high," Wells said.
If Hernandez was still alive when police were on the scene, Wells said there was a good chance he could have survived.
"Based on the city's actions or inactions, he was denied the ability...to benefit from a gun trauma center."
Therefore, Wells said he and his team want to know if there was a connection to the police's failure to find Hernandez inside the van and the possibility that he could have been in the van suffering for hours or even days.
Wells said he wants to give the city time to finish its investigation without impeding, but he wants justice to be served and the family to be shown respect.
"If they fail, we know who the officers are who are involved," he said.
Wells said they will not release the officers' names, but wants the city to release those names and hold the officers accountable. He also said he believes it would be a good idea for an outside agency like TBI to investigate.
The attorneys plan to seek monetary damages, but Wells stressed that justice is of the utmost importance at this time.
"This is one of the most egregious wrongs by the city in a long time," he said.
He also noted they are troubled that this isn't the first time this has happened.
Wells said the policy that was put into place after a similar incident occurred in 2007 was not to blame, but that officers are at fault.
As for Hernandez's family, Wells said he has spoken to many of them, including his one-year-old daughter.
He said Bardo's girlfriend believed he was out of town working, which was a common occurrence, but noted that she was indeed concerned that she had not heard from him.
Wells said he couldn't imagine what it felt like when she figured out his body was "essentially in their backyard," which was not far from the impound lot.
Hernandez's body will be taken to family in Mexico for services.
Officers arrested 19-year-old Mardracus West and 20-year-old Earl Brown in the case. Both are charged with first-degree murder.