Immigrant receives $50K settlement for Palmer arrest
A man who was held by Palmer police and handed over to customs officials last year has received a $50,000 settlement from the city, as well as promises to change police policies.
Alex Caceda’s settlement of his suit against the City of Palmer was announced Tuesday by the American Civil Liberties Union of Alaska.
Palmer police officials declined to comment on Tuesday's settlement.
According to the Associated Press, Caceda – a Peruvian man married to a U.S. citizen – was helping to provide security at a bar when he was arrested.
The ACLU said the Aug. 27, 2017 incident occurred at Klondike Mike’s, where Caceda was assisting a female bartender when three men assaulted him.
“When police showed up, they identified the attackers and handcuffed them, but upon learning Caceda was an immigrant, PPD released the attackers without punishment and focused their investigation on him,” ACLU officials wrote.
According to the ACLU, Caceda was arrested at the request of federal officials with Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
“Even though he had committed no crime, Caceda was arrested, taken to Mat-Su Pretrial Facility, and kept in jail for four days,” ACLU officials wrote. “After being turned over to ICE, Caceda was released without facing either bail or deportation hearings.”
In addition to the $50,000 settlement, the ACLU said, the City of Palmer provided him with a written apology for the “inconvenience, embarrassment, or personal hardship” he suffered in the experience.
Palmer police policies have been changed to indicate that warrants and hold requests issued by ICE are not criminal in nature. A statement has also been added to police procedures that “officers shall not stop or detain an individual based on the knowledge or suspicion that the person is in the United States without authorization.”
“When local police officers unlawfully target immigrants, they damage their department’s relationship with their community and make us all less safe,” Joshua Decker, the ACLU of Alaska’s executive director, said in the statement. “We hope law enforcement leaders all over Alaska take notice that if they arrest anyone just for being undocumented they too will be held accountable.”
The ACLU of Alaska will also be sending police chiefs statewide an overview of Caceda’s case and a request that they review department policies on immigrants with their officers.
Daniella Rivera contributed information to this story.
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