Puerto Rico Police Officers Indicted for Civil Rights Violations and Obstruction of Justice
A seven-count indictment was unsealed today charging four current and former Police of Puerto Rico (POPR) Carolina Drug Unit officers with civil rights violations and obstruction of justice arising out of a police operation conducted on Nov. 15, 2014. The indictment alleges that during the police operation, POPR officers Jose Cartagena, Carlos Nieves, Jimmy Davis and former POPR officer Shylene Lopez used excessive force against an arrestee, identified in the indictment as C.C., and that they unlawfully concealed evidence of their misconduct.
The indictment was announced by Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, and U.S. Attorney Rosa E. Rodríguez-Vélez of the District of Puerto Rico.
The indictment alleges that Cartagena struck C.C. in the head with his gun, resulting in bodily injury; that Nieves shot C.C. as he was fleeing, resulting in bodily injury; that Davis physically choked and slapped C.C., resulting in bodily injury and that Lopez physically slapped C.C., resulting in bodily injury. Cartagena then allegedly obstructed justice by covering up the conduct.
Cartagena is charged with two counts of obstruction of justice and two counts of deprivation of rights under color of law. Nieves, Davis and Lopez are each charged with one count of deprivation of rights under color of law.
If convicted, the defendants face a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for each of the obstruction of justice charges and a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison for each of the civil rights violations. The defendants also face a potential $250,000 fine for each count.
An indictment is merely an accusation and the defendants are presumed innocent unless proven guilty.
This case is being investigated by the FBI’s San Juan Division. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys José Contreras and Victor Acevedo of the District of Puerto Rico and Special Litigation Counsel Gerard Hogan and Trial Attorney Nicholas Murphy of the Civil Rights Division’s Criminal Section.