Michigan Cop Who was Caught on Camera Slamming Black Suspect's Head Against the Floor, Indicted for Excessive Force, Filing False Crime Report

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Matthew J. Rodriguez
Matthew J. Rodriguez was captured on surveillance video slamming Jaquwan Smith's head against the ground. Twitter

A former Warren police officer has been indicted after he reportedly punched a teenage inmate in the face, threw him to the ground and slammed his head violently on the ground.

The indictment stems from an incident that happened June 13 at the Warren Police Department jail.

Video Footage Shows Rodriguez Violently Banging Victim's Head Against the Floor

According to court documents, 48-year-old Matthew J. Rodriguez was working as a jail officer when a 19-year-old victim, identified as Jaquwan Smith, was brought to the department after being arrested.

Video shows Rodriguez punch the teen in the head while Smith was standing with his hands in his pockets. Rodriguez reportedly used his closed fist to punch the teen repeatedly in the head while Smith was laying on the floor. Rodriguez also reportedly slammed the victim's head onto the floor.

Police said two other officers intervened within seconds of the first punch. While the teen did not file a complaint, police said Rodriguez was reported immediately by other officers who felt he acted out of line.

Rodriguez Also Charged with Filing False Report to Justify Excessive Use of Force

Besides the civil rights crime, Rodriguez is charged with falsifying records about the incident, with the intent to obstruct or impede the investigation. He faces up 30 years prison if convicted. According to court records, Rodriguez wrote a narrative report as part of the Warren Police Department's use-of-force report regarding the encounter with Smith.

Federal prosecutors say the ex-officer included information "that he knew to be false." Rodriguez said in the report he only struck the victim one time in the head when an inhouse video revealed he struck the man multiple times, and had thrust his head and face into a wall and floor.

Rodriguez was initially placed on unpaid leave but was eventually fired within two weeks of the incident.He was charged in the indictment with Deprivation of Rights Under Color of Law, which carries a maximum penalty of up to 10 years in prison, and Falsification of Records, which carries a maximum penalty of up to 20 years in prison.

The incident compelled Smith to file a $50-million federal lawsuit June 28 against the city, Rodriguez and two unnamed officers. Rodriguez is free on a $10,000 unsecured bond. He is scheduled to be arraigned at 1 p.m. Monday in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan in Detroit.