The American Civil liberties Union (ACLU) of New Mexico filed a lawsuit yesterday on behalf of Anastacio Granillo, a 64-year-old New Mexican man who was assaulted by a Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) officer at the Columbus Port of Entry while returning home from visiting family in Mexico in June 2019. The lawsuit alleges that CBP Officer Oscar Orrantia used excessive and unnecessary force against Mr. Granillo and illegally detained him after Mr. Granillo suggested CBP officers open another line. 

“Our client was just trying to make his way home to Deming after visiting family across the border when he was viciously attacked by a border patrol officer,” said María Martínez Sánchez, senior staff attorney at the ACLU of New Mexico. “Officers like the one who assaulted our client pose a danger to everyone they come in contact with on a daily basis. They must be held accountable for their actions, or they will continue to abuse their power.”

On June 18, 2019, on a hot summer day, Mr. Granillo arrived at the Columbus Port of Entry with his wife’s cousin. After around 20 minutes, when they reached the front of the line and were asked their citizenship status, Mr. Granillo suggested to the officer that it would be helpful to open up another lane to allow for faster processing of vehicles in the heat. The officer responded in an angry tone that CBP officers could do whatever they wanted. The CBP officer then asked what Mr. Granillo was bringing into the United States. Mr. Granillo responded that he was bringing allergy medication that he purchased in Mexico. He attempted to hand the medication to the officer, but accidentally dropped it, and it landed in the officer’s hands. The officer accused Mr. Granillo of throwing the medication at him before forcing him out of his vehicle and slamming him against the wall of the vehicle inspection bay, causing him to hit his head, fall to the ground, and sustain multiple injuries. He was then detained without medical help for close to an hour, despite having a large visible bump on his forehead. 

“It is unacceptable for an officer to physically assault and detain someone for simply having made a suggestion. It is a gross display of power and dominance and is unprofessional and dangerous,” said Martínez Sánchez. “Our client has sustained lasting injuries from the incident and deserves justice for the abuse he suffered at the hands of this CBP officer.”