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  • The San Juan Daily Star

Police commissioner: Minor killed by police tried to run over officers

Police Commissioner Antonio López Figueroa, at lectern

By John McPhaul

Police Commissioner Antonio López Figueroa alleged on Tuesday that the minor who died at around 9 p.m. on Monday amid a police intervention tried to run over the officers in the Riviera urbanization of the Monacillos neighborhood of Río Piedras.

According to the commissioner, the Hyundai Tucson that the 16-year-old youth was driving had been reported stolen in Carolina and the authorities were following up on it.

“A work plan was made to track this vehicle, since it has GPS. Said vehicle is located in Vista Hermosa, from Vista Hermosa, passes (to the residence, Luis) Lloréns Torres and then returns to Vista Hermosa,” López Figueroa said in a radio interview. “When he leaves the area, he enters the area of 40th Street, La Riviera urbanization in Hato Rey, where the police stop him. This individual, when the police stop him, the policemen get out of their vehicle and the subject allegedly tries to run over the policemen and that’s when the shooting begins.”

According to a report in El Vocero, agents from the Carolina Stolen Vehicles Bureau asked for cooperation from their uniformed colleagues from the Puerto Nuevo Precinct, to try to pull over the Hyundai Tucson, which they presumed stolen, although it was not. The 2016 model gray SUV is registered in the name of a Carolina resident.

The 16-year-old driver and resident of Caparra Terrace entered a dead-end street. The agents in their patrol cars blocked the exit and got out of their vehicles.

Allegedly the young man, who had a valid learner’s permit, backed up and tried to escape by driving onto the sidewalk. In his attempt, he crashed into a vehicle and officers opened fire more than 60 times. The teenager fell dead on the sidewalk. It is estimated that he received around 15 shots. He was not found to have any firearm.

According to the commissioner, since the vehicle had a GPS, it did not appear as being stolen in police records. López Figueroa argued that interventions with stolen vehicles “are among the most dangerous.”

“An example of this was yesterday on Route 66 in Carolina, when four individuals, including two minors, shot at the police and got arrested,” López Figueroa said. “Vehicular intervention is one of the most dangerous, not only in Puerto Rico, at the level of the entire American nation and at the level of the entire world. None of the policemen go out into the street to kill anyone. In a matter of seconds, the policeman decides by perception how he is going to proceed. If his life is at risk, then he is going to use level 4 of the police, which is to use the regulation weapon.”

Special Investigations Bureau Commissioner Rafael Freytes, meanwhile, limited himself to saying that he had assumed jurisdiction over the case.

“There are some facts. Some police officers used their regulation weapon against a citizen. That was as part of an intervention,” he said in a radio interview. “The prosecutor, along with the agents, evaluate what is at the scene, including the evidence that is recovered. Based on what is in a scene, we intervene and decide to assume jurisdiction. Why? Because we believe that the case justifies our involvement and that the police leave the investigation and, therefore, the agents are basically already looking at each other as suspects. That is what there is as of now.”

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