The video above depicts the actions of a violent street gang that’s been operating with impunity in Southern Texas for quite some time now. The street gang, also known as the Green Monster (U.S. Border Patrol), physically attacked a truck driver without just cause at a suspicionless internal Homeland Security roadblock near Falfurrias, TX in early November of this year:
[CBP Roadblock - Falfurrias, TX: Latitude: 27.025054, Longitude: -98.138415]
While being seized & detained at the roadblock for peacefully & lawfully exercising his right to not answer investigatory questions, the trucker’s window was busted out by U.S. Border Patrol Field Supervisor Lial. Lial then had his lackeys drag the trucker out against his will. After the trucker was removed from his vehicle, Lial rushed in and seized the video camera that had recorded the assault.
At this stage, one would expect that if Lial thought his actions were necessary & lawful, he’d want to preserve the video footage as evidence of the trucker’s illegal actions & to show Americans how The U.S. Border Patrol is serving & protecting us at suspicionless roadblocks inside the country. If on the other hand, Lial was embarrassed/ashamed of his words and/or actions or wanted to cover-up his malfeasance, one would expect that Lial would attempt to stop the camera from continuing to record while destroying video evidence that had already been gathered.
Can you guess which choice Lial made?
After the trucker (going by the name of Thomas Sauer on youtube), was released without charges and his camera returned to him minus the video, he was able to retrieve the deleted footage using commercial data recovery software and post the video of his encounter on youtube.
In the video, the trucker’s initial interaction at primary takes place at about minute 3:40. The agent at primary asks the trucker something that I can’t quite make out and the trucker responds by saying, “I’d rather not”. In short order, the driver moves his truck to secondary at the direction of the agent at primary.
Several more minutes pass before Field Supervisor Lial climbs up onto the truck near minute 6:14 & begins interrogating the driver. The driver asserts his right not to answer investigatory questions however and requests to know on what basis Lial is extending the detention.
[U.S. Border Patrol field supervisor Lial orders driver to cooperate with his extended detention & interrogation]
Amazingly enough, Enforcer Lial claims he’s detaining the driver for impeding him under 18 USC 111. I say ‘amazingly’ because anyone with any understanding of the law would quickly realize that Lial’s claim of an 18 USC 111 violation within the context of this video is bogus on its face – something a field supervisor such as Lial either knew or should have known at the time.
In the past, various individuals commenting on articles posted in this blog have claimed that I’ve violated 18 USC 111 as well. When one of the trolls went so far as to write a letter of complaint to my service provider demanding that they shutdown this blog for these alleged violations, an attorney for my service provider was kind enough to set the record straight. See:
The interpretation of 18 USC 111 from the article referenced above isn’t just shared by a few activists and private attorneys however. The U.S. Department of Justice also agrees as the following passage from the U.S. Attorney’s Criminal Resource Manual makes clear:
1565 Forcible Act Required—18 U.S.C. § 111 — Application of Statute to Threats
Section 111 of Title 18 punishes anyone who “forcibly assaults, resists, opposes, impedes, intimidates or interferes with any person designated in 18 U.S.C. § 1114 or who formerly served as a person designated in § 1114, while engaged in or on account of the performance of his/her official duties.” Force is an essential element of the crime. Long v. United States, 199 F.2d 717 (4th Cir. 1952). Whether the element of force, as required by the statute, is present in a particular case is a question of fact to be determined from all of the circumstances. The Long case indicates that a threat of force will satisfy the statute. Such a threat which reasonably causes a Federal officer to anticipate bodily harm while in the performance of his/her duties constitutes a “forcible assault” within the meaning of 18 U.S.C. § 111. See also United States v. Walker, 835 F.2d 983, 987 (2d Cir. 1987); Gornick v. United States, 320 F.2d 325 (10th Cir. 1963). Thus, a threat uttered with the apparent present ability to execute it, or with menacing gestures, or in hostile company or threatening surroundings, may, in the proper case, be considered sufficient force for a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 111. These judicial decisions suggest a similar construction of the statutory words “resists, opposes, impedes, intimidates or interferes with.” – U.S. Attorney Criminal Resource Manual
Given the government’s official interpretation of 18 USC 111, it’s clear the truck driver was more knowledgeable of the law than Field Supervisor Lial making him look foolish for condescendingly asking the trucker if he was an immigration inspector during the encounter.
As the encounter progresses, Field Supervisor Lial continues to demonstrate his ignorance of the law. Take for instance Lial’s claim near minute 8:36 that the trucker is required to answer his questions. This despite the fact years of case law have made it perfectly clear that individuals have an absolute right not to answer investigatory questions. Indeed, Border Patrol agents in particular have been cautioned time and time again that they cannot use someone’s refusal to answer their questions or a ‘bad attitude’ as an excuse to continue a detention while operating away from the border or its functional equivalent. See:
“….A subject’s ‘bad attitude’ or refusal to answer questions, without more, does not constitute ‘reasonable suspicion’ and does not justify ‘detention’….” – U.S.B.P. Law Bulletin
“It is a settled principle that while the police have the right to request citizens to answer voluntarily questions concerning unsolved crimes they have no right to compel them to answer.” – Davis v. Mississippi
Additionally, near minute 9:10 Lial claims he hasn’t seized the trucker, merely detained him demonstrating yet again that Lial has no clue regarding the content or meaning of case law that he specifically referenced during the encounter:
“It is agreed that checkpoint stops are ‘seizures’ within the meaning of the 4th Amendment.” – U.S. v Martinez-Fuerte
During the encounter, Lial also referenced the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) as part of the basis for extending the trucker’s detention and eventually arresting him. Unfortunately for Lial, his reliance on the INA to justify his actions in this instance appear to be just as misguided as his reliance on 18 USC 111. Indeed, the U.S. Supreme Court explicitly struck down much of the authority that Congress had given to the Border Patrol in the INA almost forty years ago in a series of cases that culminated in U.S. V Martinez-Fuerte.
Prior to the mid-1970’s, the Border Patrol had been using the INA to conduct suspicionless roving patrol and checkpoint stops inside the country. During these stops, agents would interrogate travelers regarding their immigration status and sometimes search them and their belongings absent suspicion. Eventually, four cases challenging this authority on constitutional grounds percolated up to the U.S. Supreme Court. Two of the cases, U.S. V Brignoni-Ponce and U.S. V Almeida Sanchez, challenged the authority of roving patrols to conduct stops and searches absent suspicion. The remaining two cases, U.S. V Ortiz and U.S. V Martinez-Fuerte, brought forward the same challenges at internal checkpoints.
For both roving patrols and checkpoints, the U.S. Supreme Court stripped the Border Patrol of its authority in the INA to conduct searches absent consent or probable cause at locations removed from the actual border or its functional equivalent. Similarly, the court required the presence of at least reasonable suspicion before a Border Patrol agent could conduct a roving patrol stop to ask vehicle occupants about their immigration status. It was only in U.S. V Martinez-Fuerte, the last of the four cases, where the court threw the Border Patrol a bone by allowing very brief stops at permanent checkpoint installations setup along nexus points for border traffic to ask a few immigration-related questions absent suspicion.
The court made it clear however that the stops had to be brief, the scope had to be limited to immigration queries and any further detention or searching had to be premised on consent or probable cause. That as long as these restrictions were adhered to, the 4th amendment violations were slight enough to justify the suspicionless seizures:
“Our prior cases have limited significantly the reach of this congressional authorization, requiring probable cause for any vehicle search in the interior & reasonable suspicion for inquiry stops by roving patrols. Our holding today, approving routine stops for brief questioning is confined to permanent checkpoints. We understand, of course, that neither longstanding congressional authorization nor widely prevailing practice justifies a constitutional violation” – U.S. V Martinez-Fuerte
“The principal protection of Fourth Amendment rights at checkpoints lies in appropriate limitations on the scope of the stop.” – U.S. v. Martinez-Fuerte
“(secondary) Referrals are made for the sole purpose of conducting a routine & limited inquiry into residence status that cannot feasibly be made of every motorist where the traffic is heavy.” – U.S. v. Martinez-Fuerte
“…We have held that checkpoint searches are constitutional only if justified by consent or probable cause to search….& our holding today is limited to the type of stops described in this opinion. -‘[A]ny further detention . . . must be based on consent or probable cause.” United States v. Brignoni-Ponce, supra, at 882. None of the defendants in these cases argues that the stopping officers exceeded these limitations.” – U.S. v. Martinez-Fuerte
Given this history and the very real limitations the courts have placed on the Border Patrol’s authority under the INA over the years, Lial’s false claims that he’s not seizing the trucker, that the trucker must answer his questions and that he can detain him indefinitely until he’s satisfied regarding the immigration inspection appear to be patently false. False since at least 1976 when the U.S. Supreme Court clarified the constitutional issues associated with enforcement of the INA, internal immigration checkpoints and roving patrols.
So what’s going on in the U.S. Border Patrol’s Laredo Sector where ignorant Field Supervisor’s like Lial are allowed to operate with impunity while seizing people & extending detentions absent consent or pc, physically threatening people, busting out windows, dragging people out of their vehicles for peacefully & lawfully exercising their 4th & 5th Amendment rights and destroying evidence? Maybe it’s time to ask the sector’s Chief Patrol Agent Robert L. Harris and his command staff depicted below:
[Deputy Chief Marcos Garcia, Deputy Patrol Agent in Charge Thomas A. Kuhns, Chief Patrol Agent Robert L. Harris, Special Operations Supervisor Lonnie Rodriguez, Special Operations Supervisor Thomas Diaz-De Leon]
It should be noted that Robert Harris was also the Chief Patrol Agent in charge of the Del Rio Sector when active duty air force pilot Richard Rynearson was illegally detained and harassed at a Border Patrol checkpoint near Uvalde, Texas several years ago. An encounter where Harris wrote a letter to Rynearson’s command complaining about Rynearson exercising the very rights that Harris’s subordinates were supposed to be protecting in an obvious attempt to get Rynearson in hot water with the military.
Below you’ll find several additional images of the November 2014 incident with Field Supervisor Lial and the trucker. I’ve also linked to a followup video posted by the truck driver at the end of this blog to provide additional information regarding the aftermath of the encounter:
[Agent Lial threatens driver with physical violence if he continues to peacefully sit in his vehicle while failing to answer Lial's investigatory questions]
[Agent Lial uses a baton to initiate violence against the peaceful truck driver by smashing the trucker's window & spewing shards of glass throughout the cab & into the driver's face]
[With the window busted out, Agent Lial's minions pile into the vehicle's cab to forcefully remove the driver against his will]
[Agent Lial's minions yank the driver out of his vehicle, throw him onto the ground & pile on top of him]
[Agent Lial tries to destroy evidence of his crimes by seizing the camera while attempting to turn it off & delete the video. Fortunately, his understanding of digital cameras & deleting video data is about as good as his understanding of the immigration laws he claims to be enforcing]
[A followup video from the truck driver describing what happened after he was forcefully removed from his vehicle]