Originally published on August 27, 2014, at NationofChange.org
Twenty-two Puerto Rico Police Officers have pleaded guilty to multiple charges of robbery, extortion, civil rights violations, drug dealing, and obstruction of justice. Tainted by a pervasive history of abuse and corruption, the Puerto Rico police department operates with virtual impunity and a blatant disregard for the law. Separate investigations from the DOJ and ACLU confirm multiple reports of the police engaging in the unjustified use of excessive force, lethal force, and criminal activities.
On the evening of November 5, 2008, Lt. Erick Rivera Nazario and Officer Jimmy Rodriguez Vega confronted and killed 19-year-old Jose Luis Irizarry Perez. While Officer David Colon Martinez restrained Irizarry Perez, Lt. Rivera Nazario and Officer Rodriguez Vega beat the teenager to death with their batons. On March 8, 2013, Officer Rodriguez Vega pleaded guilty to one count of depriving Irizarry Perez of his civil rights by striking him with his police baton.
After failing to cover-up the unlawful killing, Officer David Colon Martinez pleaded guilty on August 22, 2014, to one count of making a false statement to the FBI and one count of perjury for lying to the federal grand jury that investigated the incident. Officer Miguel Negron Vazquez joined him in pleading guilty to making a false statement to the FBI.