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A Chelsea police officer pleaded not guilty Tuesday to charges that he beat a handcuffed man and then lied in a police report that accused the alleged victim of resisting arrest, the Suffolk County district attorney's office and the Chelsea police chief said in a joint statement.
Officer Felix Rivera Jr., 34, of Lynn, was suspended without pay after a videotape surfaced of him allegedly punching a handcuffed Chelsea man, who was 20 years old at the time, and who authorities did not name.
The incident between Rivera and the man occurred on Sept. 26, 2014, when several officers arrived to the rear of 155 Chestnut St. in Chelsea for reports of a man with a gun. The statement said that a supervising officer thought the Chelsea man, who was not the suspect, was intoxicated at the scene and interfering with the investigation. That officer, the statement said, asked that the 20-year-old be put in "protective custody." He was handcuffed, the statement said, and was being taken away from the scene when Rivera allegedly struck him four times in the face.
After another officer stopped the alleged assault, the statement said, Rivera later wrote in a police report that the victim had pushed him while being led away in handcuffs.
According to the statement, the Chelsea man allegedly struck in the face was later arraigned in Chelsea District Court on charges of assault and battery on a police officer, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest, based on the accusations Rivera allegedly crafted in his police report.
Then, in March, the victim's attorney gave Suffolk prosecutors a video filmed by an unknown witness of the Sept. 26 incident, the statement said. The video called into question Rivera's account and prosecutors have since dropped the case against the victim and begun presenting evidence against Rivera, the statement said.
“There is no room in law enforcement for anyone who would beat a handcuffed prisoner or lie in a report,” Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel Conley said in the statement. “The evidence suggests this officer engaged in criminal conduct, not police work.”
Chelsea Police Chief Brian Kyes echoed Conley's remarks, adding that the allegations against Rivera are "extremely troubling and concerning."
“A police officer’s credibility and integrity are two of the most important attributes in this challenging profession. Both operate at the core of our ability to build trust and confidence in our community members so as to effectively police our neighborhoods alongside our residents," Kyes said in the joint statement. "Please rest assured that officer misconduct in any form including excessive use of force by our personnel will not be tolerated under any set of circumstances."
Rivera was arraigned in the Magistrate's Session of Suffolk Superior Court Tuesday and released on personal recognizance. He faces several charges, including assault and battery, filing a false police report and violating a victim's civil rights.
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