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1st Circuit Court Affirms Police Officer’s Convictions in Prisoner’s Beating Death

1st Circuit Court Affirms Police Officer’s Convictions in Prisoner’s Beating Death

The United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit affirmed on November 22, 2013, the District Court convictions of four former San Juan Municipal Police Officers on charges stemming the beating death of an individual in police custody.

In the early hours of July 20, 2003, under the influence of cocain, Jose Antonio Rivera-Robles (Rivera) ran down the street yelling that “they” were trying to kill him. Two San Juan Municipal police officers saw Rivera, got out of their car and went to investigate. Rivera ran past them, jumped into their patrol car, and drove away. A search ensued.

Rivera was apprehended at a gas station. Officers handcuffed him and began assaulting him with booted, full force kicks to the head and upper body and punches to the face. The lead sergeant present, Aaron Vidal-Maldonado (Vidal) ordered them to take Rivera to the station house, saying, “This one’s mine.” By the time they go the station, Rivera was semi-conscious with labored breathing. Emergency medical services were called. Rivera was shortly thereafter pronounced dead.

On August 13, 2009, appellants Carlos Pagan-Ferrer (Pagan), Juan Morales-Rosado (Morales) and José Pacheco-Cruz (Pacheco), along with Vidal, were convicted of making false statements and obstruction of justice; Morales was convicted of perjury before a grand jury; Morales and Pagan were convicted of depriving Rivera of his rights and causing bodily injury; and Vidal was found guilty of causing Rivera’s death by failing to intervene. Vidal was sentenced to 30 years imprisonment, Morales and Pagan to 10 years, and Pacheco to 57 months.

The Court of Appeals affirmed all convictions.

See: Pagan v. United States, 736 F.3d 573, (1st Cir 2013).

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Related legal case

Pagan v. United States