Ten Judicial Investigation Police officers face charges in police brutality case

July 15, 2013

The Prosecutor’s Office announced charges against 10 police officers in an assault on a convict in custody on Friday.

On Monday, Costa Rican news site CRHoy.com obtained a surveillance video (embedded below) of the alleged assault in a San José detention facility.

The video starts with two Judicial Investigation Police (OIJ) officers fighting with the detainee in a cell. They wrestle him to the ground while a third OIJ officer joins them. After holding him on the ground, the officers appear to organize a fight between the detainee and one officer. The officer removes his personal gear while the detainee’s handcuffs are removed. The detainee then removes his shirt and fights with the officer. The officer eventually tosses the detainee to the ground and sits atop him. The detainee clutches his left arm, which appears to be broken. During the fight, other officers gather inside and outside the cell to watch.

The Prosecutor’s Office said on Monday they are charging the officers with dereliction of duty and abuse of authority.

On Friday, the daily La Nación reported that Costa Rica’s chief prosecutor suspended the 10 OIJ officers for three months pending the investigation. Update: A spokeswoman for the Prosecutor’s Office reported that three of officers have appealed the charges and are not under suspension.

The alleged assailants could face up to two years in prison if found guilty on abuse of authority, according to a spokeswoman from the Prosecutor’s Office. If found guilty on dereliction of duty, they could be suspended from work for up to four years.

The detainee was a 20-year-old man who had served three years and four months for aggravated robbery, according to La Nación. He was being detained by OIJ on a seperate robbery charge.

A medic from the judicial branch determined that the detainee suffered a fracture to his left arm, and he was treated at Calerón Guardia Hospital, according to La Nación.

The video below shows the alleged officers fighting with the detainee. The main fight begins at the 2:20 mark.

 

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