After being ordered out of his car during a traffic stop, having his arms held behind his back, and having his citizenship questioned, a Hillsboro Police officer filed a federal lawsuit against U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
A lawsuit Edgar Garcia Garfias filed on Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Portland claims that he was traveling home from work when he was stopped on the Tualatin Valley Highway.
In his lawsuit against ICE, he claims that on August 5, 2020, ICE agents wrongfully detained, arrested, and took possession of him without a warrant.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement do not comment on pending or ongoing litigation, according to David Yost, a spokesman for the federal organization responsible for enforcing immigration laws.
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The lawsuit claims that Garcia Garfias was driving when he abruptly observed a silver truck behind him with flashing red and blue lights.
Garcia Garfias claimed that when he turned left to stop, another unmarked car drew up in front of him, causing him to slam on the brakes in order to avoid a collision.
Garcia Garfias was told to reveal his hands by the individuals who emerged from the camouflaged cars wearing police uniforms and carrying unknown insignia. He quickly discovered that the police were federal immigration enforcement authorities who claimed to have a warrant for his arrest.
The claim states that he said they must be mistaken.
According to the lawsuit, after the federal officials had Garcia Garfias’ automobile enclosed, they questioned him about his “legal right to stay in this country.” They questioned his place of birth, the suit claimed.
He replied, “Here,” and displayed his police identity.
Nevertheless, he claimed that the federal ICE authorities told him to exit his vehicle and commanded him to put his hands behind his back.
Garcia Garfias claimed he informed the federal officials that he had a U.S. passport at his home when asked if he had one.
The agents allegedly asked Garcia Garfias, “Is that you?” after displaying a picture of the person they were looking for.
Other than the fact that they appeared to be of the same race, Garcia Garfias and his attorney claim the individual in the picture does not resemble Garcia Garfias at all.
The two males were born at various times, and their names and addresses are also different. For instance, the action claimed that Garcia Garfias resides in Cornelius but the person sought does so in Forest Grove.
Garcia Garfias has spent his entire 29-year existence in Washington County and has been a police officer in Hillsboro since 2018. He has successfully completed law enforcement training in subjects including “fair and impartial policing” and “advanced vehicle stops,” according to state records.
Garcia Garfias’ arms were later released after the federal officers recognized they had the wrong man. According to the lawsuit, they admitted to monitoring him and his family for several days and being aware of his work routine.
One of the federal officials reportedly saw he was upset by the stop and inquired, “Are you alright? David C. Higgs, Garcia Garfias’ attorney, said in the lawsuit, “You look pale.
The Hillsboro cop reportedly endured severe stress, anxiety, and sleepless nights out of fear that he might be wrongly detained and deported by federal officials.
Garcia Garfias “knew that he was close to being taken to a federal detention center with no ability to interact with his family,” Higgs wrote, citing Garcia Garfias’ training and experience as a police officer.
According to the lawsuit, after being told he could leave, Garcia Garfias reportedly asked the federal authorities what he should do to prevent future stops. The federal agents apologized before relocating, according to the lawsuit.
According to his lawsuit, Garcia Garfias also experienced embarrassment as a result of having to inform his superiors and the Hillsboro police command staff of what had occurred.
Plaintiff, a local law enforcement officer, “was humiliated that, despite being born and raised in the United States, he had to report to his superiors that Plaintiff, a federal agent, had been arrested,” his attorney stated.
One of the federal agents identified in the lawsuit as having stopped him was Corey Heaton. Only John Does are used to describe the others.
Garcia Garfias is asking for unspecified non-economic damages as well as compensation for his legal costs.
“Our client is looking for answers. We are confounded as to how this happened to one of our public safety officers,” Higgs and co-counsel David Hannon said in a statement. “We look forward to learning how trained, federal investigators could arrest our client based on a name and the color of our client’s skin despite surveilling him for hours. It is our hope that this case will reveal the continuing lapses in ICE’s protocols and procedures. It is our client’s hope that no one else has to go through what Officer Garcia Garfias experienced on that fateful night he drove home from work.’’
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