WASHINGTON– A grand jury in the District of Puerto Rico indicted six San Juan Municipal Police Department officers for federal civil rights violations, the Department of Justice announced today. The indictment alleges that in July 2003, six officers – Eliezer Rivera Gonzalez, Juan Morales Rosado, Jose Pacheco Cruz, Carlos Pagan Ferrer, Elias Perocier Morales, and Aaron Vidal Maldonado – violated Jose Antonio Rivera Robles’ civil rights by kicking, punching and otherwise assaulting him, resulting in his death.
In addition to charging the six officers involved with violating Mr. Rivera Robles’ civil rights, the indictment charges the officers with various obstruction of justice violations for covering up the assault when interviewed by local and federal law enforcement officers. Also, one of the officers, Juan Morales Rosado, was charged with perjury for making material false statements to a federal grand jury investigating the circumstances surrounding Mr. Rivera Robles’ death.
An indictment is merely an accusation, and defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
The maximum possible penalties for the civil rights violations are life imprisonment, without the possibility of parole, or death. The Department of Justice will decide whether or not to pursue a sentence involving the death penalty. Each of the officers also faces at least one obstruction of justice charge carrying a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, and a second obstruction of justice charge carrying a maximum sentence of five years in prison and $250,000 fine. The perjury charge against Officer Juan Morales Rosado carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
The case will be jointly prosecuted by attorneys from the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice and from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Puerto Rico.