Judge: Undocumented immigrant can sue ICE guard


SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) –  Fabian Maldonado was about to be deported when something went wrong while in detention.

Five years ago, he was at the federal immigration detention center in West Valley and was being transported by a security guard.

A confrontation occurred and Jon Martinson Jr., the Immigration, Customs and Enforcement (ICE) security guard was later accused of assaulting Maldonado without provocation.

Maldonado was thrown to the cement floor while shackled and suffered a brain injury.  

“I got my four teeth (knocked out),” Maldonado said.  “Recently I had neck surgery and they replaced two of my discs.”

His deportation was halted when criminal charges against Martinson were filed by the U.S. attorney. However, the case was dismissed twice. But Maldonado sued in federal court.  Martinson claimed government immunity.
Last week Martinson’s request for immunity was denied.

In her ruling, Judge Tena Campbell wrote: “Agent Martinson purposely punished Mr. Maldonado for questioning his authority. Right before he threw Mr. Maldonado to the floor, he said, “if you resist I’m going to take you to the ground and it will be very painful I promise you[.]”  He followed through on
his threat, knowing from his training (and, frankly, common sense) that a fully-restrained individual is “completely at the mercy of the person throwing [him] to the ground[.]  His act was not a misguided attempt to further ICE’s interests. It was unprovoked because there was no discernable resistance or danger. It was highly unusual (performing a hard technique on a completely shackled person was not taught, was not approved, and was “unheard of.”  And, given Agent Martinson’s position of power and authority over a very vulnerable detainee, was quite outrageous.  The court holds that Mr. Martinson acted solely from personal motives.” 

Former prosecutor turned criminal attorney Kent Morgan is not Maldonado’s attorney.  But Morgan is familiar with such rulings.

“In the United States if you’re here and you’re going through the justice system, you have the right to be treated with basic respect and basic rights,” Morgan said.

Morgan said the ruling means Martinson can be sued but the federal government is not responsible.  

The latter disappoints Maldonado because he wanted the federal government would take responsibility.  But he’s willing to keep fighting for justice.

“What he did to me, it wasn’t right and I might not be the first one or the last one,” Maldonado said.

Maldonado said he has no insurance and medical bills are well over one-hundred and fifty thousand dollars.  He’s hoping Martinson will be forced to pay that.

But Maldonado’s been deported before and knows once this case is over, he’ll be deported.

“They didn’t approve the u-visa (for victims of crimes),” Maldonado said. “Without it I can’t stay here.  Unless I stay illegally and I don’t want to do that anymore.”

Martinsons attorney said they may appeal the ruling.  But he also said Martinson is still working with ICE and was never disciplined but promoted.

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