Friday, August 19, 2005

Border guard on trial

Your Homeland Security at work folks, keeping you safe from - no, don't be silly, not terrorists - plant smokers. As you can see in the photo, they'll go to great lengths to keep those scoundrels out of our country - even when they're innocent.

A 17 year veteran of the Border Patrol, now called something longer, will go on trial - not for assault and battery, he's a federal cop so he's allowed to beat people up - but violating the civil rights of Zhao Yan, a Chinese businesswoman who made the mistake of vacationing in Niagra Falls and decided to take a walk across the border - as thousands of tourists do everyday. I made that walk myself as a kid.

The unfortunate Ms Yan picked the wrong day.
She and two other Chinese women say they were trying to walk to Canada at about 11:15 p.m. July 21, 2004, at the Rainbow Bridge.

According to federal prosecutors, the events leading to her arrest began when Rhodes cleared Dennis L. Leathers Jr. of Baltimore, who had walked across the bridge from Canada, to enter the United States.

Angelo Arcuri, another inspector, told investigators that, as Leathers walked past, he noticed a bulge in his back, stopped him and discovered marijuana. After a brief struggle, Arcuri said he handcuffed Leathers.

Rhodes told investigators he thought Zhao and her companions were with Leathers, so he hit an alarm button on his portable radio to call other inspectors and then ran after the women.
Now there's probable cause for you. They happened to walking past the guy when he was caught. It gets worse.
[The guard] said Zhao resisted attempts to handcuff her, so he used what he called appropriate force to subdue her.

Other inspectors told investigators that Rhodes pepper-sprayed Zhao, put her against a wall and said he had her under control.

Emmett Russell and Amina Zinnerman, two fellow customs inspectors, are expected to testify that when they tried to help Rhodes - who is 6-foot-1 and weighs 210 pounds - handcuff the 5-foot-2, 115-pound woman, Zhao was on her knees.

Before they could intervene, Rhodes, they said, kneed Zhao three times in the face, grabbed her by the hair and smashed her head twice on the pavement.
She was later released when they realized the women had nothing to do with Leathers.

Rhodes is claiming he is being scapegoated as the only openly gay guard on the force. A rather lame excuse in the light of the photo. I don't have much hope he'll have to answer for his thuggish behavior but there is a glimmer, since China's foreign minister has taken an interest in the case.

Ms. Yan will be returning to testify at the trial. One doubts she'll be making any side trips to Canada this time.

[hat tip to Tim Meehan]


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