Cellphone video of Border Patrol arrest raises questions of excessive force

SAN DIEGO - Cellphone video of a Border Patrol arrest is raising questions about excessive force. The man who shot the video does not want to be identified, but he contacted 10News because he thinks agents crossed the line.

The video shows an agent punching and kneeing a man who is face down on the ground. An undercover officer in the area stopped to help. He can be seen holding the feet of the undocumented worker.

The agent can be heard screaming for the man to give him his arm, but he refuses. The man can be heard asking to use the bathroom, but the agent continues trying to handcuff him.

"I think he was not cooperating as much as he was supposed to, but I don't think it's right for him to get beat up," said the man who shot the video.

He was transporting workers Monday afternoon near Ranchita when the Border Patrol pulled them over.

Two brothers, both in the country illegally, tried to run. Agents used a stun gun on them, but one still got away.

"I understand why they tased him, obviously he was trying to run, but the part where the officers hitting him … I don't think that's OK," he said.

The man said hours after the incident, seven agents showed up at his house in Escondido just after midnight Tuesday.

According to him, the agents demanded he turn over his cell phone. He said he was able to transfer one file before the cell phone was taken, which is how he was able to share the video with 10News. He said he also shot another clip that shows what happened in the moments prior to what we see. 

"Without a warrant, they just came into my house and searched everything, they took my phone from me, they told me I wasn't supposed to have that evidence," he said.

The man admits he is a fourth waiver parolee – which means that law enforcement does not have to present a warrant to search his home – but he still thinks agents acted inappropriately.

 "They threatened me that if I were to make contact with the kid that got away, I could do federal time, jail," he said.

10News showed the video to civil rights attorney Eugene Iredale. He said the video is ambiguous, but it appears the agent may have overreacted.

"He has two people who are controlling him, two people who are holding him down and during the video segment that we see, there's no kicking, there's no attempt to break his legs loose or even to move," said Iredale.

The Border Patrol refused to answer questions about the video, but Supervisory Border Patrol Agent Paul Carr issued the following statement just after 10 p.m. Tuesday:

"Yesterday, at approximately 4:35 p.m., Border Patrol agents initiated a vehicle stop on Ford passenger van in Temecula, Calif.  Agents determined that two of the four occupants of the vehicle were in the United States illegally. As agents attempted to arrest the illegal aliens one of the men assaulted an agent by punching him. The agent deployed his Taser to subdue him. After the Taser was discharged the man continued to actively resist and struggled with the agent on the ground.  An off-duty Law Enforcement Officer, as well as a concerned citizen, stopped to assist. The man was then restrained and taken into custody. The agent and combative subject were taken to a local hospital for evaluation, and both were released. Agents later learned that the driver of the vehicle had videotaped the assault. Records checks revealed the drive is currently a Fourth Waiver Parolee and contacted his parole officer. Agents went to his home to confirm if he had videotaped the assault of the agent. The individual gave agents consent to search his phone, and when agents confirmed the video footage the phone was seized as evidence.  The subject who assaulted the agent is currently being charged with assault on a federal agent and re-entry after deportation."

Carr said more information may be released on Wednesday.

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