Former Detroit-area officer indicted on civil rights crime for punching Black man

WARREN, Mich. (AP) — A grand jury returned an indictment against a former suburban Detroit police officer who is accused of a federal civil rights crime for punching a young Black man in the face and slamming his head to the ground.

The two-count indictment filed Thursday against Matthew Rodriguez will take the place of a federal criminal complaint filed in July.

Video released by the Warren Police Department shows Rodriguez processing a 19-year-old man at the city police station in June when he punches Jaquwan Smith, knocks him to the floor and slams his head.

Rodriguez was fired on June 23 and charged with two misdemeanors in state court.

Besides the civil rights crime, Rodriguez faces a federal charge of falsifying records about the incident.

A message seeking comment from his attorney wasn't immediately returned Friday.

"The conduct that is alleged here, a blatant and shocking violation of the victim’s rights, and then an effort by the former officer to lie about that, cannot be ignored or go unchecked,” U.S. Attorney Dawn Ison said.