Home San Juan Press Releases 2013 Four Police of Puerto Rico Officers Indicted on Federal Civil Rights, Obstruction of Justice, and Perjury Charges...

Four Police of Puerto Rico Officers Indicted on Federal Civil Rights, Obstruction of Justice, and Perjury Charges

U.S. Attorney’s Office March 22, 2013
  • Office of Public Affairs (202) 514-2007/TDD (202) 514-1888

WASHINGTON—A superseding indictment against four Police of Puerto Rico (POPR) officers was announced today by Roy L. Austin Jr., Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division; Rosa Emilia Rodriguez-Velez, U.S. Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico; and Carlos Cases, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI San Juan Field Office.

POPR Lieutenant Erick Rivera Nazario and Officer David Colon Martinez were indicted on civil rights charges alleging that they violated the constitutional rights of Jose Irizarry Perez while he was celebrating the local election results at the Las Colinas housing development in Yauco, Puerto Rico, on November 5, 2008. Rivera was also charged with violating the civil rights of Irizarry Perez’s father, Jose Irizarry Muniz. In addition, Rivera, Colon, Officer Miguel Negron Vazquez, and Sergeant Antonio Rodriguez Caraballo were indicted for obstruction of justice and making false statements to the FBI and a federal grand jury.

According to the 18-count superseding indictment, while Colon held and restrained Irizarry Perez, Rivera and another POPR officer assaulted Irizarry Perez with their hands and a police baton, which resulted in bodily injury to Irizarry Perez. The superseding indictment alleges that Irizarry Perez was thereby deprived of his right to be free from unreasonable seizures by those acting under color of law. Although Irizarry Perez died as a result of injuries he sustained on November 5, 2008, the superseding indictment does not include charges that his death resulted from the defendants’ conduct. Rivera, who was a supervisor at the time of the incident, was also charged with failing to intervene and failing to keep Irizarry Perez and his father from harm when an officer whom Rivera supervised assaulted the victims in Rivera’s presence.

In addition, the superseding indictment alleges that all four of the charged officers made false statements concerning the incident to the FBI and to the federal grand jury which had been investigating the incident. Colon and Negron were also charged with obstruction of justice for submitting false police reports and for providing misleading information to the Puerto Rico prosecutor that initially investigated the matter. Rivera was additionally charged with obstruction of justice for submitting a false police report, and Rodriguez was charged with obstruction of justice for providing misleading information to the Puerto Rico prosecutor.

If convicted, Rivera faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison for each of three charged counts of civil rights violations; a maximum of 20 years in prison for one charged count of obstruction of justice by submitting a false police report; and a maximum penalty of five years in prison for one charged count of making a false statement to the FBI and one charged count of making a false declaration to the grand jury.

If convicted, Colon faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison for one charged count of a civil rights violation; a maximum of 20 years in prison for one charged count of obstruction of justice by submitting a false police report and two charged counts of providing misleading information to the local prosecutor; and a maximum penalty of five years in prison for one charged count of making a false statement to the FBI and one charged count of making a false declaration to the grand jury.

If convicted, Negron faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison for one charged count of obstruction of justice by submitting a false police report and one charged count of providing misleading information to the local prosecutor; and a maximum penalty of five years in prison for one charged count of making a false statement to the FBI and one charged count of making a false declaration to the grand jury.

If convicted, Rodriguez faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison for one charged count of obstruction of justice by providing misleading information to the local prosecutor; and a maximum penalty of five years in prison for one charged count of making a false statement to the FBI and one charged count of making a false declaration to the grand jury.

An indictment is merely an accusation, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless proven guilty.

This case is being investigated by the San Juan Division of the FBI and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jose A. Contreras from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Puerto Rico and Senior Litigation Counsel Gerard Hogan and Trial Attorney Shan Patel from the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice.