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Press Release

Two Puerto Rico Police Officers Sentenced for Federal Civil Rights Charges Related to Fatal Assault

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs

WASHINGTON – U.S. District Court Judge Daniel R. Dominguez sentenced former San Juan, Puerto RicoPolice Officers, Carlos Pagan Ferrer, 32, and Juan Morales Rosado, 32, today for their role in the fatal assault by San Juan officers against Jose Rivera Robles, an unarmed civilian, the Justice Department announced. Defendants Pagan Ferrer and Morales Rosado both received sentences of 10 years, after conviction at trial for using excessive force, resulting in bodily injury, and for committing various obstruction of justice offenses.

At trial, the government presented evidence that on July 20, 2003, in the course of arresting the victim at a Citgo gas station, defendants Morales Rosado and Carlos Pagan, as well as other co-defendants repeatedly kicked and otherwise assaulted Rivera Robles when he was lying face down on the ground, in no way resisting or posing a threat to the officers. DefendantAaronVidal Maldonado was the senior officer on the scene during the gas station beating, and failed to discourage the excessive force used by his subordinates. After this beating, defendant Vidal Maldonado directed officers to transport the badly injured, semiconscious victim to a nearby police station, where a co-defendant again assaulted the victim in Vidal Maldonado’s presence. The injuries to the victim caused by the beatings resulted in his death.

"Law enforcement officers who use their badges as an excuse to commit egregious acts of violence are an affront to the rule of law," said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. "The Civil Rights Division will continue to aggressively prosecute officers who abuse their power in this manner."

On December 20, 2009, co-defendants Elias Perocier Morales and Eliezer Rivera Gonzalez were sentenced to 10 years in prison and 6-and-a-half years in prison, respectively, for their roles in the unlawful beating. Co-defendants Aaron Vidal Maldonado and Jose Pacheco Cruz are scheduled for April 30, 2010.

Special Agent Luis Rivero of the FBI’s San Juan Office investigated this matter. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Antonio Bazan, Special Litigation Counsel Gerard Hogan, and Trial Attorney Avner Shapiro of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.

Updated August 26, 2015

Press Release Number: 10-318