An ex-Warren Police officer has been charged in federal court with violating a jail prisoner’s civil rights by assaulting him last month without justification.
The officer, Matthew J. Rodriguez, 48, faces a charged of deprivation of rights under color of law. The felony charge carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.
The charging document alleges that Rodriguez was working as a jail officer on June 13 when he assaulted the prisoner while processing him for the jail.
Specifically, video shows the prisoner's hands by his side when Rodriguez strikes him in the head with his fist, causing the man to stumble backwards. Rodriguez then shoves the victim against a wall, and throws him to the floor. Rodriguez then punches him in the head repeatedly and slams his head into the floor. (See video below)
In June, Rodriguez was charged in state court in Macomb County with two misdemeanor counts: assault and battery and willful neglect of duty. He was then freed on $5,000 personal bond. The charges were later dropped, giving way for a more serious federal felony charge to be filed.
“The allegations in the complaint demonstrate a shocking abuse of authority by this officer which cannot be ignored, or go unpunished, stated U.S. Attorney Dawn N. Ison in a statement. “We are grateful for Prosecutor Lucido’s cooperation in this case, and his willingness to dismiss the state charges so that this federal case can go forward where the defendant now faces a felony charge.”
Macomb County Prosecutor Peter J. Lucido said in a statement:
“We are cooperating with the U.S. Attorney to ensure that when fundamental liberties are threatened, justice prevails. Together, we will strive to bring about justice and ensure righteousness in the legal system, reminding everyone that the protection of civil rights is a cornerstone of our democracy."