This email from Paul Wright, Editor of Prison Legal News: "The fifth circuit upheld the conviction of three INS officers who showed a depraved indifference to an immigration detainees medical indifference. After a raid a 15 year old suffered a broken back, how isn’t said, but the defendants were convicted of a civil rights violation for wiping their feet on the now paralyzed child, pepper spraying him to see if he would move, driving him around Texas on the floor of a police bus, etc. He died 11 months later."
EXCERPT from opinion of the court: IN THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE FIFTH CIRCUIT; No. 04-20131; UNITED STATES OF AMERICA v. Richard Gonzales, Louis Gomez, Carlos Reyna:
The defendants, Gonzales, Gomez, and Reyna worked as
deportation officers for the San Antonio division of the INS.
They were members of the elite San Antonio Fugitive Unit, a group that specialized in tracking down and deporting illegal aliens with criminal records. Early in the morning of March 25, 2001, their unit, together with INS agents from Houston, prepared to raid a house in Bryan, Texas. They were advised to be alert. The night before, agents had encountered an armed 15-year old near the house.
At 8:00 AM, the raid began. The San Antonio unit rushed in
the front door while the Houston officers maintained a perimeter
around the house. Minutes later, one of the house’s occupants,
Serafin Carrera, lay paralyzed on the kitchen floor.
The testimony is unclear about which officers took down
Carrera, though Gonzales, Gomez, and Reyna were all involved.
The prosecution did not charge the defendants with excessive
force in taking Carrera down or with causing the broken neck
which he suffered in that process. Instead, the defendants were
convicted for their behavior thereafter.
All three defendants had close contact with Carrera while he
lay handcuffed on the floor. Carrera begged for help, screaming
"they broke me . . . Tell them to kill me . . . Tell them to take me to a hospital." In response, Gomez taunted, "From here you’re going to go to jail and you’re never going to get out, you son of a f*cking mother." Officer Gonzales called him "cabron" and invited his fellow officers to wipe their feet on him. The three defendants stood in the kitchen, with Carrera on the floor crying for help, trying to figure out how to get their paralyzed detainee into an INS van. Officer Gonzales, the San Antonio team leader, ordered a detention officer to pull the van closer to the house, saying "I don’t want anybody to see what’s going on." Next, Gonzales, Gomez, and two other officers dragged Carrera from the house, across the backyard, and into the van. Carrera complained of pain, asking to be shot and put out of his misery, while Officer Gomez pulled him through the van door and onto the front seat. Gomez struggled to position Carrera’s limp body on the seat, finally leaving him slumped on his side and handcuffed. As the van departed for the Brazos County Jail, Officer Reyna asked the driver to give Carrera a screen test—an unofficial maneuver in which the driver slams on the brake causing a handcuffed passenger to lurch forward and hit his face against the screen.
The nearby Brazos County Jail was not the final destination
for Carrera or any of the other detainees. The INS Officers
merely used its parking lot as a makeshift processing area for
the illegal aliens. After processing, the aliens were to be sent by bus to New Braunfels, and then removed to Mexico.
After all the aliens were loaded into two vans, the officers
returned to their cars and followed the vans to the Brazos County Jail for processing. At the jail, all three defendants dragged Carrera off the van, hitting his head against the door on the way out. They dragged him across the parking lot while taunting him and playing with his limp body. Gonzales ordered the bus driver to open the luggage compartment, and threatened, jokingly, to make Carrera ride below. INS officers testified that Gonzales said, "Let’s Mace the f*cker, see if he budges."
The three defendants dragged Carrera onto the bus. Because the bus had tinted windows, no one outside of it saw what happened next, but after a few minutes all three defendants ran off the bus choking and laughing. With a smirk, Gonzales claimed that he had an "accidental discharge" of pepper spray. A nurse was on duty at the Brazos County Jail, and a hospital just four miles away, but the defendants left Carrera by himself on the floor of the bus, handcuffed, eyes swollen shut, and foaming at the mouth. At around 11:30 AM, three hours after Carrera’s neck
was broken, the bus left for New Braunfels. Carrera rode on the
floor of the bus for three more hours until he reached the Comal
County Jail. Upon his arrival, the intake nurse refused to take
custody of Carrera without a medical evaluation. He was taken
by ambulance to a nearby hospital and then airlifted to a trauma
center in San Antonio. Eleven months later, Carrera died.
The next day, the cover-up began. Gonzales called everyone into his office and assured them, "we’re going to get through this." When Gonzales found out that a bus driver had already written a memo about the incident, he called the bus driver into his office and said, "who the f*ck told [you] to write a memo . .
. nobody told you to write any memos . . . I’m the one that’s
going to take care of the memos." Gonzales demanded that the bus driver change his account to say that Carrera had assaulted them. The driver refused.