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Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Puerto Rico Police Officers Sentenced For Fatal Beating

Press Release

US Dept. of Justice 

WASHINGTON—Former Puerto Rico Police Officers Jimmy Rodriguez
Vega and David Colon Martinez were sentenced today for civil rights and
obstruction of justice violations related to the fatal beating of Jose Luis
Irizarry Perez, 19, announced Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General
Vanita Gupta of the Civil Rights Division, U.S. Attorney Rosa Emilia
Rodriguez-Velez of the District of Puerto Rico and Special Agent in Charge
Carlos Cases of the FBI San Juan Field Office. Rodriguez Vega was senten-
ced to serve 33 months in prison for violating Irizarry Perez’s civil rights by
striking him with a police baton during the incident, and Colon Martinez was
sentenced to serve 24 months for making false statements to a Special Agent
of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and to the federal grand jury
during the federal civil rights investigation.

With the issuance of today’s sentences, all six former Puerto Rico police
officers who pled guilty for their roles in the beating and obstruction of the
subsequent civil rights investigation have been sentenced. According to docu-
ments filed in connection with the underlying guilty pleas, Rodriguez Vega
and former Puerto Rico Police Sergeant Erick Rivera Nazario violated the
constitutional rights of Irizarry Perez by striking him with their police batons
while 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. As part of his guilty plea, Rodriguez Vega admitted
that after Rivera Nazario struck Irizarry Perez, while he was restrained and
not posing a threat to any officer, Rodriguez Vega swung his own police ba-
ton as if it were a baseball bat into the victim’s forehead. In conjunction with
his guilty plea, Colon Martinez admitted that he falsely told the FBI and the
U.S. District Court Judge Juan M. Perez Gimenez issued the sentence, which
will be followed by three years of supervised release. During the three-year
term, the defendants will be under federal supervision, and risk additional
prison time should they violate any terms of their supervised release.

“The former police officers convicted for their roles in the fatal beating and
obstruction of the subsequent investigation violated their sworn oaths to the
young victim, his family, and the public at large,” said Principal Deputy
Assistant Attorney General Gupta. “Unfortunately, egregious civil rights vio-
lations by a few individuals, such as in this case, damage the public’s trust in
law enforcement. That’s why the department will steadfastly continue to inves-
tigate and prosecute these matters, but also work with law enforcement to re-
build that trust and ensure all individuals’ civil rights are protected under the

“Today’s sentencing brings a measure of justice to the family of Jose Luis
Irizarry Perez,” said U.S. Attorney Rodriguez-Vélez. “The U.S. Attorney’s
Office reaffirmsits commitment to vigorously prosecute those who abuse their
power and official positions at the expense of constitutionally guaranteed civil

This case was investigated by the FBI’s San Juan Division and is being prose-
cuted by Senior Litigation Counsel Gerard Hogan and Trial Attorneys Shan Patel
and Olimpia E. Michel of the Civil Rights Division and Assistant U.S. Attorney
 Jose A. Contreras of the District of Puerto Rico.


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