A Detroit-area officer who assaulted a Black man after an arrest pleads guilty

WARREN, Mich. (AP) — A suburban Detroit police officer who punched a young Black man in the face and slammed his head to the ground pleaded guilty Monday to a federal civil rights violation.

Matthew Rodriguez acknowledged using “unreasonable force” against the 19-year-old man while processing him in the fingerprint room at the Warren jail in June. He also admitted that he made false statements about the incident.

Jaquwan Smith “was not physically resisting arrest or attempting to escape,” Rodriguez’ plea agreement states.

Rodriguez was fired by the Warren police department, which released video of the incident in the summer. William Dwyer, who was police commissioner at the time, said, “This is not what we do.”

Rodriguez’s “actions in this case were shocking and flagrantly violate the standards of conduct we expect of all sworn law enforcement officers,” U.S. Attorney Dawn Ison said Monday.

He will return to court for his sentence Aug. 20. The maximum sentence is 10 years in prison.

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