FBI: Man threatened to behead N.Y. chokehold cop
Detroit — A Hamtramck man is facing a five-year felony for allegedly threatening to behead a New York City police officer involved in the chokehold death of Eric Garner.
Alvaro Eduardo Guzman-Telles, whose father says has Asperger’s syndrome, is accused of posting the threat Dec. 15 on Facebook amid nationwide protests over the use of force by law enforcement and police-related deaths of Garner and Michael Brown, an unarmed black 18-year-old, in Ferguson, Missouri.
Garner died July 17 and medical examiners concluded a police chokehold caused the man’s death. A grand jury decided in early December that Officer Daniel Pantaleo would not be charged with a crime.
“I’m going to personally kill and behead Daniel Pantaleo,” Guzman-Telles, 29, allegedly posted on his Facebook page under the name “Ed Gooz,” days after the grand jury’s decision, according to a federal indictment. “This is a written threat and has to be taken extremely seriously.”
If convicted, Guzman-Telles faces up to five years in federal prison. He was ordered to be held without bond Tuesday.
His defense attorney, James C. Thomas, could not be reached for comment immediately Wednesday.
Al O’Leary, spokesman of the New York City Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, said the NYPD’s largest police union wanted to “convey our deepest appreciation to (the FBI) for following up and making an arrest in a case of a threat against one of our officers.”
The case started with a tip to the FBI’s field office in New York in late December. The tipster said Guzman-Telles posted comments on Facebook referencing the killing of police officers, according to a search warrant unsealed Wednesday.
“Kill all cops on sight. No matter the circumstances,” Guzman-Telles allegedly wrote, according to FBI Special Agent Juan Herrera.
Another Facebook user posted a comment referencing the Garner chokehold death, prompting Guzman-Telles to threaten to behead the NYPD officer, according to the search warrant.
The FBI and Sterling Heights police officers went to his family’s home Jan. 1. Guzman-Telles wasn’t home but his mother said she was aware of the Facebook comments and had told her son to delete the posts, according to the search warrant.
His mother declined comment Wednesday.
His father, Victor Guzman, said his son is innocent and merely exercising his First Amendment rights.
“It’s just words. He was venting,” his father told The News. “It is symbolic language. That does not mean he was going to do that.”
He said his son has Asperger’s syndrome, a high-functioning form of autism that can limit the ability to socialize and communicate with people.
Victor Guzman and his son were in Mexico when the FBI first contacted the family last month. His son voluntarily returned to the United States and cooperated with the FBI, Victor Guzman said.
He was arrested Jan. 7 in New Mexico and indicted Jan. 27.
“If there was some kind of will to do something, he wouldn’t have gone out of the country and come back knowing he was going to be detained,” Victor Guzman told The News. “I just think this is something the police want to make an example of.”
Guzman-Telles does not have a criminal record, according to the search warrant. A records check showed he owns three registered handguns, according to the search warrant.