Six Former Puerto Rico Police Officers Plead Guilty to Federal Civil Rights, Obstruction of Justice and Perjury Charges
Three Puerto Rico police officers, Erick Rivera Nazario, Angel Torres Quinones and Antonio Rodriguez Caraballo today pleaded guilty to federal civil rights charges in connection with the fatal beating of 19-year-old Jose Luis Irizarry Perez, announced Acting Assistant Attorney General Molly Moran for the Civil Rights Division, United States Attorney Rosa Emilia Rodriguez-Velez for the District of Puerto Rico, and Special Agent in Charge Carlos Cases of the FBI San Juan Field Office.
These pleas, in conjunction with other recent pleas by Jimmy Rodriguez Vega, David Colon Martinez and Miguel Negron Vazquez brings the total number of Puerto Rico police officers pleading guilty to charges related to this incident to six.
According to documents filed in connection with the guilty pleas, former officer Rodriguez Vega and Lieutenant Rivera Nazario struck Irizarry Perez with their police batons while former officer Colon Martinez physically restrained Irizarry Perez during an election evening celebration at the Las Colinas housing development in Yauco, Puerto Rico, on Nov. 5, 2008.
Rivera Nazario pleaded guilty to one count of depriving Irizarry Perez of his civil rights by striking him with his police baton. Torres Quinones pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice for providing misleading information to the local Puerto Rico prosecutor that initially investigated the matter. Former Sergeant Rodriguez Caraballo pleaded guilty to one count of perjury for making a false statement to the federal grand jury.
On Aug. 22, 2014, guilty pleas were entered by Colon Martinez and Negron Vazquez for their role in the case. Colon Martinez pleaded guilty to one count of making a false statement to the FBI and one count of perjury for making a false statement to the federal grand jury that investigated the incident. Negron Vazquez pleaded guilty to making a false statement to the FBI.
Rodriguez Vega pleaded guilty on March 8, 2013, to one count of depriving Irizarry Perez of his civil rights by striking him with his police baton.
“This case reflects the department’s commitment to ensuring that those officers who violate their oath by using excessive force or obstructing a federal investigation will be held accountable,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Moran. “While the vast majority of police officers serve with the highest distinction, the Justice Department stands ready to investigate and prosecute those officers who cross the line and engage in criminal conduct.”
“We rely upon our police officers to protect and serve the community, but through their illegal actions, these officers abused their power and violated the public trust,” said U.S. Attorney Vélez. “I am hopeful that today’s pleas bring a measure of justice and closure to the victim’s family and the entire community.”
Rodriguez Vega and Rivera Nazario each face a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000 for their convictions for violating Irizarry Perez’s civil rights.
Colon Martinez faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each conviction of making a false statement to the FBI and making a false declaration to the federal grand jury.
Negron Vazquez faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine for his conviction of making a false statement to the FBI.
Torres Quinones faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000 for his conviction for obstruction of justice by providing misleading information to the local prosecutor.
Rodriguez Caraballo faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine for his conviction for making a false declaration to the federal grand jury.
This case was investigated by the San Juan Division of the FBI and is being prosecuted by Senior Litigation Counsel Gerard Hogan and Trial Attorneys Shan Patel and Olimpia E. Michel from the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice and Assistant U.S. Attorney Jose A. Contreras from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Puerto Rico.