Fifth man sentenced in deadly assault on cop

THE BRONX - Victor Mercado was sentenced Thursday to one to four years behind bars for his involvement in the brutal beating of Police Officer Eric Hernandez, which led to his death.

The 18-year-old Mercado is the youngest of four suspects involved in the gang assault on the off-duty officer in the parking lot of White Castle on Webster Avenue in January2006.

The judge called Mercado?s actions outrageous and horrifying before delivering the sentence, which is relatively light compared to his counterparts because he was a minor at the time of the crime.

The other four men involved in the attack on Hernandez were sentenced to five to 10 years in prison in May.

The judge also said that Mercado?s actions two years ago forever changed the lives of the family members of the victim, as well as his own life as he now faces up to four years in prison and enters the compound just weeks before his 19th birthday.

During the sentencing, the victim?s father, Efrain Hernandez, called the suspect a coward and told him that he would have never come up to his son one on one.

Hernandez added later that Thursday?s sentencing gives the family a sense of closure.

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