DETROIT – A former Warren police officer has been charged in a federal criminal complaint with violating a jail prisoner’s civil rights by assaulting the prisoner without justification, United States Attorney Dawn N. Ison announced today.
Ison was joined in the announcement by Peter J. Lucido, Macomb County Prosecutor, and Devin J. Kowalski, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the Detroit Field Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Matthew J. Rodriguez, 48, a former Warren Police Officer, was charged in the complaint with deprivation of rights under color of law.
According to the complaint, Rodriguez was working as a jail officer on June 13, 2023, at the Warren Police Department, when the victim was brought to the department after being arrested. While Rodriguez was processing the victim, Rodriguez repeatedly assaulted the prisoner without justification. The surveillance video inside the police department shows that while the victim was standing with his hands down at his sides, Rodriguez struck him in the head with enough force to cause the victim to stumble backwards. Rodriguez then shoved the victim against a wall, and threw him to the floor. While the victim was laying on the floor, Rodriguez used his closed fist to punch the victim repeatedly in the head. Rodriguez also slammed the victim’s head into the floor.
“The allegations in the complaint demonstrate a shocking abuse of authority by this officer which cannot be ignored, or go unpunished, stated U.S. Attorney Dawn N. Ison. “We are grateful for Prosecutor Lucido’s cooperation in this case, and his willingness to dismiss the state charges so that this federal case can go forward where the defendant now faces a felony charge.”
“We are cooperating with the U.S. Attorney to ensure that when fundamental liberties are threatened, justice prevails. Together, we will strive to bring about justice and ensure righteousness in the legal system, reminding everyone that the protection of civil rights is a cornerstone of our democracy,” said Macomb County Prosecutor Peter J. Lucido.
“One of the FBI’s most important missions is to protect the civil rights of all people, including those in police custody,” said Devin J. Kowalski, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in Michigan. “This defendant’s alleged conduct is not reflective of the honor and professionalism with which the men and women of the Warren Police Department perform their duties. I am grateful for the collaboration with the Macomb County Prosecutor's Office and the Warren Police Department which has been essential to this investigation.”
The defendant faces up to ten years in prison on the civil rights charge.
A criminal complaint is only a formal charging document and is not evidence of guilt. A defendant is entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
This case was investigated by the FBI. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Moran.
Macomb County Prosecutor Lucido originally brought misdemeanor charges of assault and battery and willful neglect of duty against defendant Rodriguez. Prosecutor Lucido intends to dismiss these charges so that the federal felony charge against Rodriguez can go forward.