Another citizen killed by police officers - Puerto Rico Daily Sun - September 30, 2010
There are 3 comments on the www.prdailysun.com story from Sep 30, 2010, titled Another citizen killed by police officers - Puerto Rico Daily Sun - September 30, 2010. In it, www.prdailysun.com reports that:By Raul Colon: The Justice Department was still evaluating the circumstances in which an elderly man was shot to death by the police while they were trying to serve a warrant. The confusing events occurred at 6:15 a.m. Wednesday, when seven officers of the Police Drug Division entered the home of William Malaret Pagán, 77. In a gun battle, he was shot and died at the scene. The police were trying to serve a search warrant issued by Ponce Superior Court Judge, Darik Ruz. According to reports, the order was issued amid allegations of possible illegal drug trafficking at or near Malaret Pagán’s home. The confidential information that led to the issuing of the warrant indicates a “large” man, in his late 30s, that was using the residence to sell illegal narcotics. While Malaret Pagán does not fill that description. However, his 43 year old son does. That’s another angle the police are pursuing at the moment. The identities of the officers were not released, as units from the Internal Affairs Division, along with Justice Department officials, began investigating the matter. Ponce District Attorney, Francisco Sánchez Rodríguez, assigned prosecutor Ada Torres to lead the Justice investigation. Police Superintendent José Figueroa Sancha indicated that Malaret Pagán, a retired Transportation and Public Works employee, opened fire as soon as the policemen entered his house located at E-29 St. of the Santa Clara suburb in Ponce. “According to my information, that man (Malaret Pagán) fired first at the policemen that were trying to enforce a search warrant. We are in an initial phase but I can tell you that we found two fire arms on the property, including a shotgun,” Figueroa Sancha said. That information could not be independently corroborated. Reports point to the agents moving into the neighboring home of Gerardo Padilla first. Padilla told the local press that although the police officers did not present him with the warrant, he nevertheless decided to let them search the property. When questioned by the police regarding Malaret’s residence, Padilla claimed to have told them that the property was not a “drug point” and that an elderly man lived there. [Continue in Extended Entry.]
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Since: Dec 08
#1 Sep 30, 2010
Chief welcomes watchdog as probe opened into another police shooting - Caribbean Business - September 29, 2010
Following a brief meeting with Gov. Luis Fortuño and recently appointed police watchdog Efraín Rivera Pérez on Wednesday, Police Superintendent José Figueroa Sancha said the creation of the investigative body “is the best thing that can happen to the Puerto Rico Police Department,” according to an Inter News Service report.
“I’ve always wanted the best for the Police,” said Figueroa Sancha, adding that he met Tuesday with 13 regional Police directors, who likewise saw the move as positive and who, like the 17,000 uniformed officers, will be required to submit all information requested by Rivera Pérez.
The meeting at La Fortaleza came hours after police say they fatally shot a 77-year-old man after he opened fire at them during a drug raid in Ponce, a killing that comes as Puerto Rico’s law enforcement officers are under scrutiny for allegedly using excessive force.
The former Supreme Court justice will evaluate the procedures Police use to handle cases and, he added,“whether they reflect the modern standards and parameters of the Civil Rights Commission of the federal Department of Justice.”
“This is to ensure citizens’ rights to life, and to liberty, but also provides security for police because they have established procedures [for intervening],” Rivera Pérez said.
He was appointed to the monitor post in the wake of the shooting death of karate athlete José Vega Jorge, 22, by police in Guaynabo last week. Rookie officer Abimalet Natal Rivera, 25, was charged with second-degree murder for allegedly opening fire while responding to a reported robbery at a Burger King, killing Vega. Rivera allegedly began shooting after hearing another officer’s gun go off by accident.
The Justice Department’s Special Investigations Bureau (SIB) opened another probe into the Ponce killing Wednesday. The dead man, William Malaret Pagan, shot at officers when they tried to arrest his son on drug charges, Figueroa Sancha said.
Officers identified themselves when they arrived at the house where Malaret and his son lived, the police report said. When they got no response, they forced open the door and then came under under fire from a .38-caliber handgun, the report said.
A Spanish-language daily newspaper quoted family members as disputing the police account. They said the officers did not identify themselves, which prompted Malaret to fire at them.
Figueroa Sancha said at a news conference Wednesday that he has suspended other officers involved in the Burger King case, but he defended the actions of the police involved in Wednesday’s shooting.
The governor said he and Figueroa Sancha would discuss the Burger King shooting with federal officials and New York Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly during a trip to New York next week.
“It is our responsibility to ensure the rights of citizens at all times,” Fortuño said.
Figueroa Sancha said he supports the appointment of retired Rivera as an independent monitor to aid the federal investigation into the department.
“It is the best decision,” he said.“We should not refuse help.”
Appearing at a news conference with Fortuno, Rivera told reporters that as monitor, he will hire civil-rights lawyers and review thousands of documents outlining police protocols in the hopes of preventing another shooting.
“A weapon is the last recourse,” he said.
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Since: Dec 08
#2 Sep 30, 2010
Fortuño said Rivera’s findings would be made public.
Some questioned whether hiring a monitor would lead to any changes.
In 2007, police created an independent panel to investigate the department after an officer shot an unarmed man three times — once in the head — in a killing in Humacao that was captured on video. The officer was convicted of first-degree murder.
The panel made several recommendations that police officials embraced, such as requiring officers to undergo psychological tests every three years and demanding that candidates take a polygraph test, former Police Superintendent Pedro Toledo told The Associated Press on Wednesday.
But panel leader Carlos Gallisa told the AP that interviews with dozens of officers revealed a lack of basic schooling among many of those who are recruited to serve on the force. He added that the officers also worked long hours with insufficient pay.
Gallisa, an attorney and former politician, joined several legislators who have called for Figueroa Sancha to step down.
“This is not a question of reports or of committees,” he said.“The leadership needs to change.”
Meanwhile, Figueroa Sancha has ordered police officers who have been the subject of three or more administrative complaints to take a two-week intensive training course on procedures, Inter News Service reported Wednesday.
“We have been working on the reassessment of the curriculum of the Police Academy [known in Spanish as the Colegio Universitario de Justicia Criminal], and we are offering a two-week training” that will ultimately be given force-wide, the Police chief said.
Given the various cases of alleged police brutality and killings of citizens by agents, as well as 17 deaths of policemen in the past six years, Figueroa Sancha said he decided to re-evaluate the training received by officers and has streamlined the process for reviewing and adjudicating complaints.
Figueroa defended the work done by his agency in handling complaints regarding alleged police misconduct, and pointed out that police forces from the Dominican Republic and Guatemala have looked to Puerto Rico’s Police Department for training in investigative procedure.
Rivera Pérez said Wednesday that in the coming days he will organize a working group of experts in the various fields of law enforcement, and will authorize them to search for the information necessary to revise the action protocols. He has not begun to issue information requests, he said, because he must first become familiar with what goes on in the agency. He declined to discuss any specific incident.
“I am proud of the desire, of the willingness to serve on the part of the police who put their lives at risk, but I want to assure citizens that their rights are safeguarded,” said Fortuño, who noted that the watchdog’s investigation would end “when we are satisfied.”
The governor reiterated his full trust in Figueroa Sancha’s continued command, and said it was unfair “to infer that there exists a pattern of abuse or the like, but I am concerned and we must ensure the rights of all.”
For his part, Figueroa Sancha vowed to abide by the Rivera Pérez’s eventual recommendations. There have been past reports that changes to police procedure suggested by the Puerto Rico Civil Rights Commission and other organizations have been ignored.
The government is expected in the next few days to release details, including salary, on the contract between the Office of Management & Budget and Rivera Pérez, who will work independently of the Police department.
--- Caribbean Business online - Open above link for original source and related stories.
#3 Sep 30, 2010
If it is true that the police identified themselves before entering Mr. Malaret's home, they were justified in defending themselves when Mr. Malaret opened fire on them with a .38 caliber handgun. Obviously, Mr. Malaret was attempting to kill them. The police were carrying out their duty executing a search warrant.
I'm no defender of the Commonwealth police having personally witnessed them abuse citizens & deny citizens their legal rights.
I will say that if they act as quickly to investigate this matter as they act to solve gay murders, everyone involved will die of old age before they successfully conclude the matter.
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