CBP Agent Caused Disabled Woman to Miscarry: ACLU Lawsuit

By Brett Snider, Esq. on October 24, 2013 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

The ACLU filed a police brutality suit on behalf of a disabled woman who was allegedly abused by border patrol agents and suffered a miscarriage a day after the incident.

According to The Texas Tribune, U.S. citizen Laura Mireles alleges that Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) Officer Riano physically and verbally abused her and "applied handcuffs with such force that the fire department had to be called in to remove them."

Are these shocking allegations part of a larger trend?

Mireles' Brutality Suit

Mireles' suit against Agent Riano stems from a November 2012 incident in which the agent arrested, searched, and physically restrained Mireles, a 5'1" 100 lb. U.S. citizen with a congenital birth defect who works at a duty-free store near the Texas-Mexico border.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed suit in Texas federal court on behalf of Mireles on Tuesday, and the complaint contains some fairly shocking allegations.

Chief among these allegations was the charge that due to Agent Riano's manhandling of Mireles, she suffered a miscarriage the next day -- which her gynecologist confirmed was due to the alleged abuse.

Mireles' complaint charged Agent Riano with claims under Bivens as well as the Federal Tort Claims Act, covering both the Fourth Amendment violations from the search and seizure as well as the assault and battery which lead to her injuries and miscarriage.

Problems in the CBP

The Tribune reports that Adriana Piñon, the ACLU of Texas' senior staff attorney, affirmed Mireles' injuries are "emblematic" of the use of force issues within the CBP's ranks. According to a somewhat redacted September 2013 report by the Department of Homeland Security on the CBP's use of force, between 2007 and 2012, 63% of more than 1,000 complaints of excessive force by CBP agents were evaluated as involving "possible excessive force."

The ACLU suit for the November 2012 incident comes after Mireles "official complaint" with the CBP was dismissed.

This finding is especially worrisome when one considers the already extreme deference which the courts give federal law enforcement at or even near the border.

Bottom Line:

If the allegations in the complaint are true, here's hoping that Agent Riano draws the fire-and-brimstoniest judge in all of Texas' Southern District.

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