Slain Ponce police agent to be promoted posthumously

By Pedro Correa Henry

Twitter: @pete_r_correa

Special to The Star

The Puerto Rico Police Bureau told The STAR on Sunday that Agent Erasmo García Torres, who was slain last Thursday in Ponce during a traffic stop, will be posthumously promoted to the rank of sergeant during a funeral ceremony.

Police spokesperson Sgt. Axel Valencia told the newspaper that the ceremony will be held today at 10 a.m. in the public square of García Torres’ hometown of Villalba.

“His death is absolutely painful. He was one of the most efficient men in the police force,” Valencia told the STAR. “He always went above and beyond the call of duty.”

On Friday, Ponce Superior Court Judge Mayra Peña Santiago ruled for the arrest of Bryan Ramos Rivera, 28, who was charged with the murder of García Torres.

The court set bail at $3 million, which Ramos Rivera was unable to post. He was then remanded to the Bayamon Correctional Complex.

A preliminary hearing was scheduled for June 23.

According to authorities, at about 12:05 p.m. on Thursday, García Torres intervened with Ramos Rivera for an alleged violation of the Transit Law on Villa Street, at the intersection of Venus Street, in the southern municipality. Ramos Rivera shot the officer two times.

García Torres was then transported in a patrol car to the emergency room at Damas Hospital, where he later died.

The suspect was arrested later Thursday afternoon in Ponce’s Cantera neighborhood.

Police also seized a wine-colored Hyundai Brio motor vehicle on Magnolia Street.

Prior to Ramos Rivera’s arrest, Puerto Rico Police Commissioner Col. Antonio López Figueroa lamented the death of García Torres, who joined the island police force on June 28, 1991.

García Torres worked for 28 years in the Ponce Motorized Unit. Information on survivors was not immediately available.

As previously reported by the STAR, García Torres was the fourth police officer killed in the line of duty this year in Puerto Rico.

“The death of Erasmo García Torres hurts us deeply because when they kill one of my police officers, they kill a brother, a friend, a loved one and they tear away part of our being,” López Figueroa said in a written statement. “To his family, our total solidarity and wishes of strength in this process. May they know that we will be with them.”

Meanwhile, Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia said the agent’s murder “will not go unpunished.”

“The Puerto Rico Police and the Puerto Rico Department of Public Safety acted quickly and effectively to solve this murder,” he said in a written statement. “There will be justice for our fallen hero, Agent Erasmo García Torres. RIP.”

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