Jose V. Rivera
On Friday, June 20, 2008, at approximately 3:20 p.m., two inmates at USP Atwater took the life of Correctional Officer Jose Rivera. Officer Rivera was on the second tier of a housing unit attempting to place the two inmates – Joseph Cabrera Sablan and James Leon Guerrero – back into their cell. The inmates turned and began assaulting Officer Rivera, who tried to evade the assault by running to the ground floor. When Officer Rivera tripped, the two inmates caught him and resumed their attack using a homemade knife.
Responding staff successfully restrained both inmates and performed life-saving measures. Officer Rivera was immediately transported to the nearest local hospital, where unfortunately, he died shortly thereafter.
Officer Rivera was 22 years old. He was a four-year veteran of the Navy, and completed two tours of active military duty in Iraq. He began his career with the Bureau as a Correctional Officer on August 5, 2007, and less than one year later was killed in the line of duty. He is survived by his mother, two sisters, and brother.
On August 14, 2008, inmates Sablan and Guerrero were indicted for the murder of Officer Jose Rivera. On February 25, 2009, the Attorney General authorized the United States to seek the death penalty. Subsequently, in March 2014, to avoid a possible death sentence, Guerrero pleaded guilty to murder in exchange for a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole. In September 2015, Sablan was similarly sentenced to prison for the rest of his life following a plea agreement that eliminated the possibility of his release. Inmate Sablan died of natural causes on November 14, 2018 while still in custody.
Jose V. Rivera is listed in the National Law Enforcement Memorial on Panel 36, E-26. Jose, you will never be forgotten.