The American Civil Liberties Union of Utah has filed a lawsuit against agents from Utah Adult Probation and Parole and it’s director over an August 2018 raid on a Salt Lake City home.
The lawsuit states that the agents came to the Yañez family’s home in the Rose Park neighborhood looking for Jose Yañez, 27. His parents, Munir Yañez and Maria Garcia, and their other children were home at the time. The family had previously told agents that Jose Yañez did not live with them anymore and he was also not present on the date of the incident.
A video shows agents at the Yañez family’s door demanding to come inside. The father, Munir, is heard asking repeatedly for a search warrant. The lawsuit claims the agents did not have one.
In the video, agents can be seen using a battery ram to force their way in. After they were inside, the lawsuit claims agents tackled Garcia with a riot shield and grabbed her crotch before handcuffing her. Munir Yañez was pinned to the ground and repeatedly shocked with a Taser, the suit alleges.
“They put their feet on my head and back,” he said in Spanish in a separate video interview. “They hit me in my own home for nothing even though I explained to them that I owed him nothing.”
The agents also pointed guns at the family members, including the minor children, the lawsuit states.
The lawsuit also claims that while they were questioning Jose Yañez’s whereabouts, one officer suggested that as a Latina mother, Garcia should know where her children are at all times. It also alleges that after the agents placed Munir Yañez in custody, they suggested he would be going to Mexico, as they drove him to the Salt Lake County Jail. Munir Yañez is a U.S. citizen.
“Invoking those sorts of stereotypes in such a charged and violent atmosphere and in the course of fulfilling your duties, looking for someone who is on parole, it does raise some serious concerns,” said John Mejia, legal director for the ACLU of Utah.
The Utah Department of Corrections, which oversees the probation and parole department, said it cannot comment due to pending litigation.
The lawsuit claims that the agents’ actions were a violation of the family’s Fourth Amendment rights which prohibit unreasonable searches and seizures.
“This was, from our perspective, extremely excessive military type tactics against a family and there should be some accountability for the people that took those actions,” Mejia said. “We are looking for policy changes that requires that Adult Probation and Parole, when they are looking for people under their supervision who have warrants, that they not routinely use this kind of tactic.”
Rocio Hernandez covers education and immigration for KUER. Follow her on Twitter @rociohzz