Borders

Federal Agents Beat Retiree at Border Crossing, Claim His Wounds Were 'Self-Inflicted'

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Larry Kirschenman
ACLU/YouTube

Yesterday, I highlighted the case of Clarisa Christiansen, who was rousted by roving Border Patrol agents on a road well within the United States and left stranded after they slashed her tire.

But good, old-fashioned border crossings are a great place to get roughed up by federal employees, too. Larry Kirschenman, a 75-year-old Vietnam Veteran and retiree living in a border community, who was in the habit of heading to Mexico "to get haircuts or dental work, or sometimes just for lunch" (Mexico is a popular destination for affordably dentistry), was pulled over at the Nogales port of entry. He ended up in the hospital.

That's him pictured above right, holding photos from the hospital of his injuries.

At the American Civil Liberties Union blog, he tells his story:

When I got to the border crossing where customs officers checked my passport, I was told to pull over into what's called secondary – a parking area where they search vehicles for contraband. The agent there took my keys and in a gruff voice ordered me to get out of my truck, put my hands on the vehicle, and said he was going to search me. I did exactly as he said, then turned and asked him, in a calm and polite voice, whether he needed some kind of probable cause to search me. He answered "No I don't!" Then he grabbed me in an arm lock, slammed a pair of handcuffs down on my wrists hard enough to split the skin, and pushed my wrists up behind my neck so far that my shoulders started to go out of joint. It hurt so badly I started screaming "Please stop, please stop, you're hurting me." I wasn't resisting at all, but he just kept on while I cried out in pain.

Larry Kirschenman
ACLU/YouTube

Next the officer marched me to a holding cell. There he picked me up by the seat of my pants and slammed my head onto the tile floor. I blacked out for a moment, then I woke up with a head wound that had peeled a chunk of skin off the top of my head. I was still bleeding when an officer handcuffed me to the side of a bench so tightly that I couldn't even stand up. And they kept on questioning me, "Why do you come here so often? What are you doing over there?

Unshockingly, Kirschenman started having chest pains. The agents agreed to call on ambulance, "but only if I agreed to pay the hospital bill, which I did."

According to him, the ER doc called the police, in fury over the injuries inflicted by the Border Patrol agents.

In a statement at the time of the incident, Customs and Border Protection insisted that Kirschenman's lacerations were "self-inflicted injuries" which he sustained after becoming combative. He must have thrown himself against the agents' batons, over and over again. 

The stop, claim the feds, was actually because of an outstanding California warrant which turned out to be "non-extraditable and no further charges are pending." Well, that's nice.

Kirschenman is still trying to get the Border Patrol to surrender survellance footage of the incident. Below is a video presentation of his story.

The ACLU filed a lawsuit Monday to force the federal government to be more forthcoming about its agents' conduct along border.