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Docket 24 Amended Complaint Copy

Docket 24 Amended Complaint Copy

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Published by: Hiram Meléndez Juarbe on Aug 07, 2012
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08/07/2012

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1UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURTDISTRICT OF PUERTO RICOCONSEJO GENERAL DE ESTUDIANTES DELRECINTO DE RÍO PIEDRAS DE LAUNIVERSIDAD DE PUERTO RICO
 
and theFEDERACIÓN CENTRAL DE TRABAJADORES,LOCAL 481, UFCW,PLAINTIFFS,- AGAINST -HÉCTOR PESQUERA in his official capacity asSUPERINTENDENT OF THE PUERTO RICOPOLICE DEPARTMENT and GUILLERMOSOMOZA-COLOMBANI in his official capacity asTHE SECRETARY OF THE DEPARTMENT OFJUSTICE OF PUERTO RICO.DEFENDANTS.CIVIL ACTION NO. : 3:12-cv-01518-JAF
AMENDED COMPLAINT
 (Suit for injunctive relief for violation of constitutional rights)
PRELIMINARY STATEMENT
1.
 
This action for injunctive relief is based on the violation of Plaintiffs’ rights under the First, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution.
First 
, thisaction concerns the Puerto Rico Police Department’s pattern and practice of using excessiveforce against Plaintiffs and other demonstrators in violation of their First Amendment right tofreedom of speech and expression, as well as their Fourth Amendment right to be free fromunreasonable searches and seizures.
 Second 
, this action challenges the overbroad and vaguerevisions to Article 297(b) of the Penal Code, recently signed into law on July 30, 2012, whichviolate the Plaintiffs’ First and Fourteenth Amendment rights and render the statuteunconstitutional on its face.2.
 
From time to time Plaintiffs stage public demonstrations to advocate changes thatare of interest not just to their members but which are also matters of public concern. Such
Case 3:12-cv-01518-JAF Document 24 Filed 08/06/12 Page 1 of 34
 
2 public demonstrations are time-honored and constitutionally protected methods of advocating for social change.3.
 
Since at least early 2009, the Puerto Rico Police Department (“PRPD”) hasroutinely deployed Tactical Operations Units (colloquially known as the “Fuerza de Choque” or the “Riot Squad”) and other units who used tear gas, pepper spray, rubber bullets, painful pressure point techniques, batons, and other forms of intimidation to prevent the two Plaintiff organizations, groups like them, and other individuals from exercising their constitutional rights.4.
 
The PRPD’s conduct, as alleged in this Complaint, is not isolated. Nor does itrepresent the unauthorized actions of individual officers. Instead, it is the product of awidespread and well-settled pattern and practice of disrupting political assembly and activitiesthrough the use of unreasonable force. It has received widespread attention in the local newsmedia with multiple stories in the written press, television, and other media. Multipleorganizations, including the Department of Justice, Amnesty International, the American CivilLiberties Union, the Bar Association of Puerto Rico, and an external committee convened by thePRPD have repeatedly criticized the PRPD’s excessive use of force, especially during publicdemonstrations. José Figueroa Sancha and Emilio Díaz Colón, former Superintendents of thePRPD, had frequent discussions with most if not all of those organizations and others who brought these incidents to their attention and asked them to initiate reform.5.
 
Plaintiffs seek injunctive relief pursuant to Section 1983 of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Section 1983”).6.
 
There is no valid justification for PRPD’s pattern and practice of using force to prevent Plaintiffs from exercising their First Amendment rights to freedom of speech, freedom oexpression, and freedom of assembly. Similarly, there is no valid justification for PRPD’s
Case 3:12-cv-01518-JAF Document 24 Filed 08/06/12 Page 2 of 34
 
3repeated use of force in violation of Plaintiffs’ Fourth Amendment right to be free fromunreasonable searches and seizures.7.
 
Officers under the direction of or with the knowledge and acquiescence of Defendant the Superintendent of the PRPD, currently Héctor Pesquera, have utilized the PRPD’s pattern and practice of forcefully engaging demonstrators even in instances in whichdemonstrators have engaged in entirely lawful demonstrations and other free speech activity andin instances in which demonstrators have engaged in entirely peaceful civil disobedience. Theyare applied when public actions partake of an effort to bring important matters to the attention of the public.8.
 
Defendant Pesquera, under the authority of the Governor of Puerto Rico, isresponsible for implementing and overseeing the PRPD’s policies and practices for engagingdemonstrators. To the extent the practices are pursuant to informal policy of the PRPD,Defendant Pesquera is likewise responsible for their adoption and/or implementation. To theextent the practices are widespread practices, Defendant Pesquera has not only ignored the practices, he has actually encouraged them.9.
 
On June 27, 2012, Plaintiffs filed this action for injunctive relief againstDefendant Pesquera.10.
 
Less than a week later, the Puerto Rico legislature passed legislation thatsignificantly revised Article 297(b) of the Puerto Rico Penal Code (the “Act”). A certifiedtranslation of Article 297 is attached hereto as Attachment A. Under the express terms of theAct, “any person who . . . causes disorder in the immediate view and presence of the LegislativeAssembly, or any of its Chambers, the Municipal Legislatures or any of their members and their 
Case 3:12-cv-01518-JAF Document 24 Filed 08/06/12 Page 3 of 34

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