Guilty plea for 2005 murder of LIU Post basketball player

Teri West
Tafare Berryman attended LIU Post. On Thursday, Jaime Rivera pleaded guilty to his murder. (Photo courtesy LIU Post)

In 2005, one of LIU Post’s star basketball players was killed in a shooting after spending the evening at a club in Long Beach, and the case went without an arrest for 12 years.

In February 2017, however, through combined county and federal efforts, street gang member Jaime Rivera was charged with murder, and last Thursday he pleaded guilty in federal court to killing Tafare Berryman, a 6-foot-6 player from Brooklyn.

Rivera, 34, will be sentenced Nov. 13 and faces up to life in prison. The Freeport resident belongs to the Almighty Latin King and Queen Nation gang and is the son of a police officer, prosecutors said.

Berryman was 22 at the time of his death.

“He’s just a very first-class kid,” Berryman’s LIU Post coach Tom Galeazzi said in 2005, according to Newsday. “People gravitated to him because he had such an infectious smile. He was just an upbeat kid, and every day was a great day for him.”

FBI and Drug Enforcement Administration officials along with Nassau County Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder and Richard Donoghue, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District, announced the plea. The DEA joined the case because Rivera was a heroin addict and law enforcement put pressure on the Latin Kings to reveal Rivera’s whereabouts, Newsday reported.

Efforts to reach Rivera’s public defenders, Randi Chavis and Mia Eisner-Grynberg, were unavailing.

“Nearly 14 years ago, an innocent young man lost his life to senseless gang violence,”  Donoghue said. “Like his family, we do not forget.”

Rivera mistakenly thought Berryman had been involved in an earlier altercation with his gang at the time that he shot the student, according to the officials.

The day of the murder, Rivera, fellow gang members, Berryman and other LIU Post students were at La Mansion, a club in North Long Beach, according to court filings and the presentation at the guilty plea proceeding.

An altercation between members of the gang and a student occurred in the club, where the students were celebrating a fashion show, and continued in the parking lot.

Berryman was not involved in the fracas and was leaving with a friend when his companion was hit in the head with a bottle. They drove away, but Berryman’s friend, who was driving, soon pulled over due to his wound.

Rivera, under the impression that Berryman and his friend had been part of the gang brawl in the parking lot, drove up and shot Berryman, according to officials.

Before it was solved, the case appeared on “America’s Most Wanted.”

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