Feds accuse San Juan cop of assaulting cuffed man in 2015

Third San Juan police officer indicted on federal charges since 2017

McALLEN — Another San Juan police officer finds himself facing criminal charges, according to a Southern District of Texas U.S. Attorney’s office release.

According to the release, Juan Pablo Galindo is in federal custody accused of assaulting a man who was in his custody back in December 2015.

Galindo, now a sergeant, acting in his official capacity as an officer with San Juan Police at the time, allegedly violated the civil rights of an unidentified man on Dec. 4, 2015.

“Galindo allegedly physically assaulted the man while he was in custody. According to the charges, the victim had been handcuffed and under police control when Galindo hit him in the groin area with his knee,” the release states.

Galindo, 40, of Weslaco, is expected to make his initial appearance before a magistrate judge Tuesday morning, the release states.

Galindo is the latest San Juan Police officer to face federal charges within the last year.

Former San Juan police officers Salvador Hernandez and Richard Leon Castillo were sentenced on federal charges in August after two federal drug trials.

Hernandez and Castillo were facing a maximum of up to six months in prison after their May convictions on making false statements to Drug Enforcement Administration agents, but government prosecutors asked the court to vary from the sentencing guidelines and give more than the recommended maximum.

In May 2018, jurors came back after more than a week of testimony with not guilty verdicts in the trial of Hernandez and his former colleague Castillo, who were accused of working together to steal cocaine from a seizure nearly two years ago.

The jury decided the government didn’t do enough to prove a cocaine conspiracy involving the two officers. Hernandez, however, was found guilty on both counts of lying to federal agents.

The trial in May 2018 was the second involving the two men, who were acquitted by jurors of drug conspiracy charges on Dec. 18, 2017, after a week’s worth of testimony. But Castillo had also been found guilty of lying to federal agents — the same fate Hernandez met in the May 2018 trial.

The trial was connected to what later was revealed to be a staged car crash in a San Juan orchard. The vehicle contained several kilos of sham cocaine, and was intended to be seized by law enforcement.

If convicted, Galindo faces up to 10 years in federal prison and a maximum $250,000 fine.

A call to San Juan Police Chief Juan Gonzalez for comment went unreturned as of this posting.