AP NEWS

Suspect shot by police was free despite probation violations

May 22, 2019
In this May 14, 2019 booking photo released by the Johnson County Jail in Iowa City, Iowa shows armed robbery suspect Michael Cintron Caceres, 34. The violent offender shot this month by Iowa City police had been released from jail days earlier, despite probation violations that could have kept him locked up. Within hours of bonding out of jail on charges of assaulting a police officer, Cintron Caceres allegedly robbed an Iowa City gas station at knifepoint early May 7. Then two days later, he allegedly burglarized other businesses before he was shot and wounded after fleeing from officers. (Johnson County Jail via AP)

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — An armed robbery suspect who was shot this month by Iowa City police had been released from jail days earlier, despite probation violations that could have kept him behind bars, a review by The Associated Press shows.

Hours after bonding out of jail on charges of assaulting a police officer, investigators say Michael Cintron Caceres robbed an Iowa City gas station at knifepoint early on May 7. Two days later, he was shot and wounded after fleeing from officers who were responding to reports of burglaries at two businesses.

The Department of Correctional Services, which was responsible for supervising Cintron Caceres during his probation, now says the 34-year-old is “a danger to the community” who should be jailed indefinitely. And the Division of Criminal Investigation is investigating whether officers appropriately used deadly force when they fired at him.

Cintron Caceres was sentenced to three years of probation in late March after pleading guilty to stealing jewelry and other valuables from multiple Iowa City homes. A judge then ordered the Department of Correctional Services to evaluate his “risk to public safety” and determine how he should be supervised, including whether to place him in a halfway house. Instead, the department temporarily lost track of him and his alleged crimes continued.

On April 30, authorities say Cintron Caceres robbed an adult entertainment store, threatening the cashier with a screwdriver before taking $109 from the register. On May 4, he fled from officers who wanted to question him about a theft. He was found hiding in a garage and swung at officers before he was subdued with a stun gun, authorities allege. He was arrested on charges of assaulting an officer, interference with official acts and theft.

Those charges were probation violations that could have led to his detention and ultimately sent him to prison. However, Magistrate Mark Thompson set a $1,000 surety bond during a May 5 initial appearance — an amount consistent with the state’s bond schedule for the charges but that didn’t take into account his probation status. Cintron Caceres left jail May 6 after a company posted the bond, which typically requires a defendant to pay only $100.

Probation officials didn’t learn about the May 4 arrest until the day after he was released, Department of Corrections spokesman Cord Overton said. An officer drafted a probation violations report and sent it to the county attorney on May 8 with a request for a warrant to arrest Cintron Caceres, he said. By then, authorities say he had robbed a Suburban Amoco station at knifepoint, making off with $280.

Early on May 9, officers responding to burglaries at a Pizza Hut and a consignment shop encountered Cintron Caceres, police say. Two officers fired their guns after a foot chase, wounding him. The shooting remains under investigation, and it’s unclear whether he was armed.

Cintron Caceres was taken to jail last week after spending days recovering in a hospital. This time, a judge set a cash-only $5,000 bond pending a hearing on his probation violations. Separately, he’s being held on $50,000 cash-only bond in two first-degree robbery cases stemming from the April 30 and May 7 incidents.

Iowa City police executed a search warrant related to Cintron Caceres this week, but the details are unclear because documents have been sealed.

A lawyer for Cintron Caceres didn’t return messages.

He was first arrested in January after an Iowa City woman reported a suspicious man on a bike knocking on doors and casing homes. A homeowner who was out of town saw an intruder inside his home on a remote camera and sent the footage to police.

Cintron Caceres had gold jewelry stuffed in his coats and pants when arrested and had sold other items at a pawn shop. Officers recovered additional stolen jewelry and coins in bags that Cintron-Caceres left at a homeless shelter after he was evicted in January.

After he was sentenced in the felony burglary case, Cintron Caceres met with a probation officer April 4 to review and sign a probation agreement, but that didn’t happen because of a language barrier, Overton said. He didn’t comply with instructions to contact the department the following week to set up another meeting with an interpreter, he said.

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