Police Abuse

Feds Execute Military-Style Raid on Texas Grandmother

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This week Reason TV's Tracy Oppenheimer documented the story of Capt. Nicolás Aquino, who is currently attending the Naval Post Graduate School in Monterey, California. In December 2013, Aquino was violently detained by the local sheriff's department after officers took him for a burglar. 

According to Aquino, after officers verified the Air Force captain's identity they told him, "that he [the officer] had wanted to tase me if he had a Taser, and he would have shot and killed me if he had drawn his weapon, and he would have been fully justified in killing me." 

Incidents like Aquino's are no longer isolated occurrences. 

Over at PJ Media, Bryan Preston has the exclusive on the story of Gracie Escamilla, a 51-year-old grandmother from Mission, Texas. 

In the early morning of October 18, 2013, men dressed in black scaled the wall in Escamilla's front yard and began pounding on the front door. Escamillia thought she was going to be the victim of a home invasion robbery, a crime that is common in her small town on the Texas-Mexico border.

But the men swarming the Escamilla household that morning were not criminals. They were federal agents.

As Preston writes: 

One officer flashed a piece of paper and said that they were arresting Gracie on suspicion of Medicare/Medicaid fraud. Gracie says that the officers, who she and Joel [her husband] say were from the Federal Bureau of Investigations, never read Gracie her rights.

"They did not read my rights. They just said, 'You cannot get anything. You can't get your purse. Your phone. Nothing at all.'" Gracie says she was never told to find an attorney.

Even worse, Gracie was still in her underwear when the mostly male squad of officers entered her home. They quickly separated Joel and Gracie from each other.

Soon after the raid, Escamilla—who operated a small company called RioPlex medical billing out of her own home—appeared in the local press as a suspect of Medicare/Medicaid fraud conspiracy. But it appears that her only crime was guilt by association. A client of Escamilla's was arrested the same day for billing the government for ambulance services that were not provided. Though Escamilla had no part in the scheme, she was held at the federal Bentsen Tower in McAllen, Texas, for days and was not allowed to make a single phone call. And though agents arraigned her for Medicaid fraud, the arresting officers took no files, no computers, and no evidence from her home. 

Escamilla awaits trial and is fighting to clear her name. Her case is another example of the troubling trend in police militarization. 

Recently, Zach Weissmueller documented a similar case in Little Rock, California, where Los Angeles County sheriffs deputies swarmed the home of 80-year-old retiree Eugene Mallory. Unfortunately for Mallory, the raid proved deadly. Watch his heartbreaking story below:

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