Feds drop case against MV man beaten by agents, Immigration court judge terminated deportation hearing: Represented by Manuel Rios
Publication: Skagit Valley Herald; Date: Apr 12, 2007; Section: Front Page; Page Number: A1
Ralph Schwartz can be reached at 360-416-2138 or email@example.com.
By RALPH SCHWARTZ
Federal immigration authorities decided not to deport an undocumented immigrant who was beaten, then
arrested, by two U.S. Border Patrol agents last spring at a school bus stop in Mount Vernon’s Kulshan Creek
Manuel Rios, the Seattle based lawyer for Isabel Valencia Perez, said in an interview that Immigration and
Customs Enforcement dropped the case in October because two Border Patrol agents allegedly violated his
client’s constitutional rights when they arrested him.
An investigation by the Mount Vernon Police Department confirmed eyewitness accounts that Border Patrol
agents Daryl Schermerhorn and Steven Malpezzi beat Valencia after approaching him at a school bus stop at
11:20 a.m. on June 12, 2006. Valencia was waiting to meet his son, who was in kindergarten. The first agent
confronted Valencia just as his son’s school bus arrived, witnesses said.
Rios filed a motion in immigration court to suppress evidence gathered after the arrest, arguing the evidence
was obtained illegally. ICE did not contest the motion, but agency spokeswoman Virginia Kice would not confirm
that this was because of the actions of the Border Patrol agents.
“We didn’t feel we had the evidence in this case to prevail,” Kice said. An immigration court judge in Seattle
terminated the case Oct. 16. No public notice of the action was issued at the time.
Valencia had been held at an immigration detention center in Tacoma for more than six weeks until his
release in late July.
Schermerhorn punched Valencia in the face and wrestled him to the ground in a gravel area, according to
witnesses and a Mount Vernon police report. Valencia’s face was swollen, and he had cuts on his chest and
face, the report said.
Agent Malpezzi held a gun to Valencia’s head while Schermerhorn held him down, police said.
The two agents were dressed in plain clothes, and Valencia told police they did not identify themselves as
federal agents until several minutes into the altercation, according to the report.
The two agents had minor cuts and scratches. Neither Valencia nor the agents received medical attention.
Skagit County Prosecuting Attorney Tom Seguine decided not to file felony assault charges against the
agents because Valencia’s injuries were not severe enough, and Malpezzi could have argued that he drew his
weapon in the line of duty, according to the prosecutor’s notice of charging decision, provided to the Skagit
Valley Herald last year.
In his motion to suppress evidence, attorney Rios said the agents racially profiled Valencia, who was sitting in
the grass along North 26th Street when the agents confronted him.
The agents told police Valencia squirmed and made lingering eye contact with them as they drove by in their
unmarked, policestyle Crown Victoria. He also fled as Schermerhorn approached him, they said.
Rios argued in his motion that such behavior is not enough to provoke reasonable suspicion, and that the
agents violated Valencia’s Fourth Amendment right to freedom from unreasonable search and seizure.
“The court must conclude the agents relied on race alone in the decision to stop Mr. Valencia,” Rios wrote in
Valencia reportedly continues to live with his family in Skagit County. Neighbors have described him as a
devout Christian and a hard worker who dotes on his four sons.
His case is in a small minority of deportation proceedings that are terminated. About 80 percent of cases
result in removal of an immigrant from the country, according to statistics kept by the Executive Office for
Of more than 273,000 cases resolved from October 2005 through September 2006, 5.8 percent were
terminated, either because the prosecutor dropped the case or the defendant had gained some legal status, said
Elaine Komis, spokeswoman for the Immigration Review office