Just 18 days before his 30th anniversary as a police officer, Sgt. Erasmo Garcia-Torres was shot in the head while conducting a traffic stop on his lunch break.
On June 10, Puerto Rico Police Department Sergeant Erasmo Garcia-Torres was on his lunch break when he saw a driver committing a traffic violation. He briefly made contact with the driver, but the man fled the scene.
Sgt. Garcia-Torres pursued the suspect on foot towards the intersection of Calle Venus and Calle Villa. When the suspect reached the intersection, he immediately spun around and opened fire on Garcia-Torres, hitting him in the head.
He was rushed to the hospital, but died from his injuries.
The gunman, who has been identified as Bryan Ramos Rivera, was arrested and charged with murder.
David Begnaud, lead national correspondent for CBS News, shared the news of Sgt. Garcia-Torres’ death on Twitter, writing: “A veteran Puerto Rico police agent was killed today in Ponce. The officer had pulled over a suspect for a vehicle violation. The suspect ran, the agent pursued & the suspect shot the agent dead, authorities say. Agent Erasmo Garcia Torres, 50 was married with 4 children.”
In a subsequent tweet, Begnaud added: “The suspect was found hiding out in his girlfriends home. The suspect has been identified as Bryan Ramos Rivera, 29. Police say he’s been arrested twice in the past, once for a weapons violation and once for drug possession.”
The suspect was found hiding out in his girlfriends home. The suspect has been identified as Bryan Ramos Rivera, 29. Police say he’s been arrested twice in the past, once for a weapons violation and once for drug possession.
— David Begnaud (@DavidBegnaud) June 10, 2021
During a ceremony on June 14, Garcia-Torres was posthumously promoted to the rank of sergeant.
Prior to joining the Puerto Rico Police Department on June 28, 1991, Garcia-Torres had earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice.
The Police Tribune reports: “Sgt. Garcia-Torres served in the Guayama and Aibonito Tactical Operations Division, the 782 Precinct of Puerto Nuevo, the Drug Division, Narcotics, Control of Vices and Illegal Weapons, the Guayama Drug Court program, and the Ponce East Precinct during his career… He had been serving as a motorcycle officer since 2019.”
He had received several awards and commendations during his career.
Sgt. Garcia-Torres was also a member of the Puerto Rico National Taekwondo Team, and had represented his country in the Pan American Games in 1990, 1997, and 1999.
Puerto Rico Governor Pedro R. Pierluisi announced three days of mourning in honor of Sgt. Garcia-Torres’ sacrifice, Telemundo PR reported.
“My condolences to the entire family of this Puerto Rican hero, who for 28 years protected the lives of all of us in Puerto Rico and made the greatest sacrifice of giving his life,” Pierluisi said, according to Telemundo PR. “I deeply regret the pain of the family, loved ones and fellow police officers of Agent Erasmo García, for this terrible loss that we all feel.”
Sgt. Garcia-Torres, who leaves behind four children, was laid to rest on June 14.
“Our people join their family in prayer and solidarity, we trust that God will fill them with strength and comfort in the face of the pain they suffer,” the governor added.