A former police officer in Warren, Michigan has been indicted by a grand jury on charges stemming from a June incident in which he reportedly punched a young adult inmate in the face, then filed a false report about what had happened after the fact.
The incident, which was caught on video, reportedly happened on June 13th shortly after 6:00am at the Warren Police Department jail. In the video, former police officer Matthew Rodriguez could be clearly seen striking a 19-year-old inmate in the face, then throwing him to the ground and slamming his head into the ground. The inmate in question had reportedly been arrested between 4:00 and 5:00am on felony carjacking charges and was brought to the jail where Rodriguez was working as a booking officer.
In the video, Rodriguez and the inmate exhanged words in the fingerprinting room, which were not audible on the video, and then Rodriguez punched the inmate in the face, then threw him to the ground and punched him at least two more times before other officers intervened.
Notably, the inmate did not file a complaint against Rodriguez, but rather his fellow officers immediately reported him to superiors, believing his actions to be clearly out of line.
Rodriguez was initially placed on unpaid leave but was subsequently fired by the department on June 26th. In a statement announcing Rodriguez’s termination, police commissioner Bill Dwyer said, “Like everybody, I was shocked and appalled when I observed Rodriguez’s actions. These actions were completely unjustified and unprofessional, ultimately resulting in criminal charges against him. This incident no doubt reflected negatively on every member of this department. A comprehensive internal investigation showed that Rodriguez violated multiple department policies and procedures. Given the totality of this incident, the decision to terminate Rodriguez’s employment was clear and obvious.”
Community reacts to officer assaulting 19-year-old in Warren
Rodriguez was charged with two felonies: deprivation of rights under color of law, and falsification of police records. He faces a possible 30 years in prison, if convicted. He is expected to be arraigned on Monday, according to WDIV-TV in Detroit.