Border Patrol Agents Kneed Navy Seal in the Spine and Beat Him Over “Parking” Issue

Bianca Bruno | Courthouse News Service


A former Navy SEAL claims in court that Border Patrol agents beat and arrested him as he jogged in a park near the border, then jailed him on bogus allegations that he’d assaulted the agents who beat him.

Alton Jones, 57, was with his wife and 6-year-old-son at the Border Field State Park in south San Diego on Aug. 9, 2014. After setting up a beach umbrella, laying out towels and their son’s toys, Jones went for a jog. He wore a T-shirt and shorts and carried an iPhone and earphones — no weapon.

As he jogged, he called his wife and told her, “I think that Border Patrol agent is flying down the hill toward me for some reason.”

The border patrolman, defendant “Agent Hernandez,” had met them when they entered the park, and told them where they could park, Jones says in the Aug. 8 complaint in Federal Court.

“Defendant Hernandez got out of his patrol vehicle, shouting to Mr. Jones to ‘turn the fuck around,'” Jones says in the complaint. It continues: “Offended, Mr. Jones replied, ‘What’s your fucking problem?'” Then he turned around and jogged back toward his wife.

Before he knew it, Jones says, he was surrounded by at least four border patrolmen, in three vehicles. They “pummeled” him to the ground, hitting him on his back and neck, kneed him in the spine and twisted his arms, then said, falsely, that he had “just assaulted a federal agent.”

He was handcuffed and arrested and given a “rough ride” to the Imperial Beach Border Patrol station, where he was jailed for 16 hours, from 4 p.m. until 8 a.m. the next day, according to the complaint.

While he was jailed, the border patrol refused to let him contact an attorney, and threatened him with “the chair” — being strapped to a chair and hooded, Jones says.

“This extreme anguish was compounded by the acute anxiety Mr. Jones felt at being separated from his wife and young child, and upon overhearing Border Patrol agents at Imperial Beach station laughing at him while he sat in his cell (for example, saying in mocking tones, ‘He says he’s an American.’).”

When he was released he was given no paper work nor a record of his detention, Jones says. He seeks punitive damages for unconstitutional detention and arrest, excessive force and unconstitutional search.

He is represented by Mitra Ebadolahi with the ACLU in San Diego, who was not immediately available for comment Thursday.

Border Patrol spokesman Eduardo Olmos said his agency does not comment on pending litigation.

Published by Courthouse News Service.