Organizational Culture Events where the accountability status is “Lawsuit Filed”

August 12, 2021

A Cameroonian asylum-seeker is suing the US government for an alleged assault by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Ice) officers, who he said knelt on his neck and suffocated him to try to force him to accept his own deportation.

In a filed on Thursday, Acheleke Fuanya said the alleged attack, at a Louisiana prison in January, has left him with persistent back and waist pain, and post-traumatic stress disorder. He also claims lingering Covid symptoms after the alleged incident in which he says the Ice officers were unmasked in violation of official regulations.

“The officers surrounded Mr Fuanya, tripped him to the ground, and kneeled on his neck, and pulled his head forward in order to suffocate him,” the complaint says. “Other officers yanked his arms and twisted his leg and ankle. Even after Mr Fuanya pleaded with the officers to get off of him because he could not breathe, they continued to choke him until they grabbed his fingers and forcibly fingerprinted him.”

The Ice officers were trying to make him sign a document and appeared to take his fingerprint by force as a substitute for a signature. The exact contents of the document are unknown but in other cases Ice officers have allegedly try to force asylum-seekers to sign waivers of their asylum rights or requests to their home governments for travel documents, which would put a veneer of legality on their deportations.

Source: The Guardian, “Cameroonian asylum-seeker sues US for alleged assault by Ice officers”, August 2021. <https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/aug/12/cameroonian-asylum-seeker-sues-us-for-alleged-assault-by-ice-officers>

Sector(s): Border-Wide

Agency(ies): ICE

Event Type(s): Denial of Asylum, Inappropriate Deportation, Use of Force

Accountability Status: Lawsuit Filed

July 8, 2021

“Recently, one of our legal service partners spoke with Maily Martinez, who attempted to cross the border with her
husband and son near the Yuma port of entry in early July. Maily was eight months pregnant with twins at the time.
When BP agents encountered the family, the woman expressed that she urgently needed medical attention, but the
agents ignored her and expelled her back to Mexico. She realized shortly after that the twins had died, likely rightaround the time that Border Patrol denied her medical aid.”

Source: Kino Border Initiative, “July 22 Update From KBI”, July 2021.

Sector(s): Tucson

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Denial of Asylum, Denial of Medical Care, Fatal Encounter, Gender-based Violence

Accountability Status: Lawsuit Filed

April 26, 2021

Humberto Torres Iracheta was riding his bicycle at 5 am, and was struck by Border Agent
Francisco Javier Vallejo in his pickup truck. Vallejo then fled the scene.

Source: My RGV, “Border Patrol Agent Fled Deadly Collision with Bicyclist, Later Reported the Death”, April 2021. <https://myrgv.com/local-news/2021/04/26/border-patrol-agent-fled-deadly-collision-with-bicyclist-later-reported-the-death/>

Sector(s): Rio Grande Valley

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Fatal Encounter

Accountability Status: Lawsuit Filed

April 4, 2021

“In a new lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court, three Black CBP officers are suing the Department of Homeland Security, alleging CBP routinely targets and harasses Black travelers at the Blue Water Bridge between Port Huron and Sarnia. Of the 275 CBP officers who work at that location, four are Black.”

“…The Michigan lawsuit highlights what some immigration and civil rights advocates describe as a pervasive and unchecked problem of racial profiling at CBP, an agency they say has been steeped in institutional racism for decades.  Similar racial profiling lawsuits have been filed over the years in Montana, Virginia, Texas, Washington, Ohio and Maine, though CBP has routinely denied culpability and avoided repercussions.

“Nationwide, Black people account for less than 6% of the total CBP workforce of 21,185. More than 62% of employees are white; another 25% are Hispanic.”

Source: Tresa Baldas, “Customs and Border Protection officer says racism at Michigan-Canada border happens daily: ‘It needs to be exposed'” (The Detroit Free Press, April 4, 2021) <https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2021/04/04/cbp-officers-lawsuit-racial-profiling-issue-us-canada-border/7076949002/>.

Sector(s): Northern Border

Agency(ies): Office of Field Operations

Event Type(s): Racial Discrimination or Profiling

Accountability Status: Lawsuit Filed

October 23, 2020

A U.S. Border Patrol agent shot and killed David Angel Villalobos-Baldovinos, 30, near the U.S.-Mexico border in San Ysidro, the San Diego Police Department confirmed.

SDPD Homicide Unit Lt. Andra Brown said the man, a Mexican national and father of 2, was involved in an altercation with the Border Patrol agent on federal property, in an area that is patrolled regularly and not open to the public, before the agent fired.

Authorities said the man had attempted to enter the U.S. illegally when he was confronted by a Border Patrol agent, which ensued in their altercation. The federal agent opened fire on the man, striking him once in the torso.

Medics later pronounced Villalobos dead. Brown said the agent involved was not seriously injured.

Source: NBC San Diego, “One Dead in Shooting Involving Border Patrol Near Las Americas Premium Outlets”, October 2020. <https://www.nbcsandiego.com/news/local/us-border-patrol-involved-in-shooting-in-san-ysidro/2430349/>; Southern Border Communities Coalition (SBCC), “Fatal Encounters with CBP Since 2010,” <https://www.southernborder.org/deaths_by_border_patrol>

Sector(s): San Diego

Agency(ies): Border Patrol

Event Type(s): Use of Force

Accountability Status: Lawsuit Filed

June 16, 2020

Janine Bouey, a 60-year-old U.S. Army veteran and former Los Angeles Police Department officer, reports being repeatedly shackled, sexually assaulted (at one point with a canine), sworn at, and forced to disrobe without privacy by CBP agents who pulled her out of line while she was crossing into San Diego from Tijuana. Ms. Bouey, who is Black, was released without any allegation of wrongdoing. When she complained to a younger Black CBP officer, he replied, “These things happen.” Ms. Bouey alleges that CBP officers committed “sexual assault, assault, battery, false arrest, false imprisonment, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent infliction of emotional distress, negligence, Bane Act violations, Ralph Act violations, equal protection violations, and California Civil Code section 49 violations.”

Source: Law Offices of Joseph M. McMullen, “Federal Tort Claims Act Administative Claim, Claimants: Janine A. Bouey (DOB: 8/18/1959)” (San Diego: June 9, 2021) <https://d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net/alliancesandiego/pages/3234/attachments/original/1623816903/FTCA_Claim.pdf?1623816903>.

Sector(s): San Diego Field Office

Agency(ies): Office of Field Operations

Event Type(s): Abusive Language, Conditions in Custody, Racial Discrimination or Profiling, Sexual Assault

Accountability Status: Lawsuit Filed