Activists continue to demand names of officers involved in May arrests
The federal government offered to drop charges Wednesday morning against three activists arrested during an incident at the Nogales Port of Entry in late May.
Shena Guiterrez was arrested, along with Richard Boren and another activist, when the trio demanded the names of U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agents Guiterrez said harassed her when she attempted travel back into Arizona from Sonora.
Guiterrez, one of the founders of the Border Patrol Victims Network, said she was harassed on May 24 by an agent because of her t-shirt. The shirt had pictures of her husband Jose, and the severe head trauma he suffered during a 2011 altercation with border officials in San Luiz, Arizona, when he tried to re-enter the United States after he was deported.
Guiterrez accuses the border agents of beating her husband and has filed a civil lawsuit.
While attempting to retrieve photographs of her husband as part of 48-hour vigil held on both sides of the border, Guiterrez said the CBP officer aggressively questioned her. After a heated exchange, Guiterrez was handcuffed, the Nogales International reported.
Guiterrez was released, but later she returned to the port with a group of border activists, including Boren, and pointed out the officer she accused of harassing her. The group passed through the turnstiles, and then returned refusing to leave the port until they were given the names of the officers who detained her. They were arrested for failing to follow the orders of a law enforcement officer.
During the court hearing Wednesday, federal prosecutors offered to close the cases, allowing each to pay a $100 court fee. Both Guiterrez and Sarah Roberts, the third activist who was arrested that night, paid the fine.
However, Boren refused and asked for trial.
A trial, he said, would require federal officials to release the names of all the agents involved.
"If the only way to get the names is a trial, that's what I'm going to do," Boren said during a press conference after their hearings.
Before Guiterrez could speak in front of the U.S. District courthouse on West Congress Street, a federal officer stopped the conference, arguing that a permit was required.
Joe Orozco, a Federal Protection Service officer, cited the group during the May incident, Boren said. A copy of the citation shows it was signed by a federal agent named "Orozco" and attorney Vince Rabago, who represented Boren and Guiterrez, confimed that the agent was in the court as part of this morning's hearing.
The steps and courtyard in front of the court at 405 W. Congress Street has often been an ad-hoc location for court-related press conferences, including one in July 29 when the ACLU announced it was formally filing a civil suit against the agency for the death of a Mexican teenager.
Orozco told a reporter that a permit could be obtained at the nearby General Services Administration building and then herded the crowd to the sidewalk along Congress.
Guiterrez has accused agents of beating her husband, who continues to have seizures as a result of the injury, which required the removal of his skull and left him in a coma for weeks, she said.
However, a statement released by CBP said an officer used a taser on Jose Guiterrez after he became "combative" and "ignored commands to halt." Jose Guiterrez fell and his head slammed against the floor, the statement said.
"He left me without so much as a cavity on him," said Shena Guiterrez today. "And, he now he's like this." She pointed to a picture of her husband's sutured and bruised skull.
Rabago said the problem was because of "a few bad apples" in the agency.
"I used to be a prosecutor, I will support law enforcement officers, but we cannot let an agency as large as the Border Patrol act with impunity," Rabago said.
After the press conference, Boren and a half-dozen activists drove to Border Patrol headquarters in Tucson, where he gave a letter to Andy Adame, Border Patrol Special Operations Supervisor. The letter asking for the names of the officers who detained Boren, the names of the officers involved in the injury of Jose Guiterrez, and the agents involved in the shooting death of Elena Rodriguez.
Adame accepted the letter and said he would forward it to the appropriate authorities.