Court grants bond for San Juan cop in civil rights violation case

A court granted a bond for a currently suspended San Juan police officer accused of depriving the rights of a suspect more than four years ago.

During a brief detention hearing Tuesday afternoon, U.S. Magistrate Juan F. Alanis granted Juan Pablo Galindo a $30,000 unsecured bond in connection with an indictment that accuses Galindo of violating the civil rights of a suspect under his control in 2015.

The government, represented by Karla Alejandra Andrade, did not oppose bond for Galindo and Galindo’s attorney, Reynaldo M. Merino, agreed to follow pretrial service’s recommendation of a bond for the law enforcement officer.

Coincidently, Merino also defended Galindo’s former colleague, ex-San Juan police officer Ricardo Castillo during a May 2018 federal drug conspiracy case. Ultimately, Castillo was found guilty of lying to federal agents in connection with the alleged drug case.

Galindo, a sergeant with the department, was fired in 2016 as a result of the 2015 incident and after a local TV outlet released body-cam footage of the incident.

But Galindo appealed, and was reinstated later that year in June. He was also awarded back pay for lost wages by the arbiter.

The incident, which took place on Dec. 14, 2015, involved Galindo, and a San Juan resident named Victor Aguirre, who was 19 years old at the time.

Galindo responded to a call for service as backup after the responding officers began to struggle with people at the scene.

While at the scene, Galindo can be seen in the footage grabbing Aguirre by the shoulders, and then kneeing him in the groin area.

This took place when two other officers were escorting a handcuffed Aguirre to Galindo’s patrol unit, Andrade said during the hearing.

The indictment outlines that Galindo “while acting under the color of law, did physically assault V.A., which resulted in bodily injury, thereby willfully depriving V.A. of the right, secured and protected by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, to be free from the use of unreasonable force by law enforcement officer.”

Merino, said he’s seen the body-camera footage, and stated that “other things are going on,” during the alleged incident; specifically that he was there as a backup for the other officers.

He made the argument during the hearing that his client’s actions were “reasonable under the circumstances.”

Galindo, 40, of Weslaco, was wearing jeans, a short-sleeved button shirt, with a white long-sleeved shirt underneath. A few of his family members appeared for the hearing.

The court noted Tuesday during the hearing that Galindo, aside from the current allegation, has no prior criminal history.

His brother Raul Rolando “Lucky” Galindo, on the other hand, was convicted in 2010 to a lifetime sentence for his role in at least one murder, and drug smuggling, as part of a member of the prison gang the Texas Syndicate, a federal officer said.

In November 2010, “Lucky” Galindo was part of several Texas Syndicate members to be convicted and sentenced to federal prison in connection with murders, and other offenses on orders from the prison gang to protect the gang and further its organized criminal activity.

“Lucky” Galindo, 45, also of Weslaco, is serving his life sentence at a high-security federal prison facility in Indiana, federal jail records show.

The court also announced jury selection set for Feb. 4, 2020, with the trial set to begin shortly after.

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