By Mike Carter (Sunday, November 29, 2009 )
Seattle Times staff reporter
MOUNT VERNON — The federal government has paid an illegal immigrant $48,000 to settle a lawsuit alleging he was assaulted and illegally arrested by two U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agents while waiting for his 6-year-old son at a bus stop.
The violent and public June 12, 2006, arrest of Isabel Valencia-Perez of Mount Vernon strained relations between the city’s police department and the federal agency. There were enough questions over what had happened that city and Skagit County prosecutors contemplated filing criminal charges against agents Daryl Schermerhorn and Steven Malpezzi, according to documents obtained by The Seattle Times through a public-disclosure request.
The FBI opened a criminal civil-rights investigation, looking into allegations of excessive force and concerns the customs agents set an unreasonably high bail for Valencia-Perez and tried to have him deported as quickly as possible.
The Mexican Consul was so concerned with the incident that it sent a Seattle immigration lawyer to represent Valencia-Perez. The consulate even helped pay for his bond when the attorney, Manuel Rios, got it reduced from $50,000 to $5,000. Read more →