Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials have detained and may deport Edgar Javier Marin, an Ecuadorian immigrant from East Haven, Conn.
Marin, a legal resident, is a father, youth soccer coach and immigrant-rights advocate. His detainment and possible deportation likely stems from an incident with East Haven police on June 28, 2011.
On that day, Marin’s partner and mother of his child, Bianca Torres, had been involved in a car accident. Marin was on the scene to assist her. Police and a tow truck operator arrived and wanted her car towed to a police impound until the car was deemed safe to drive. Marin protested, stating he wanted to remove some tools from the car and possibly just have the car towed to his home. A physical altercation erupted that resulted in Marin's being stun-gunned by East Haven police officer Dennis Spaulding.
Accounts of the altercation differ, but many witnesses claim that the officer brutally beat Marin before using the stun gun. Others say the officer used justified force. Marin left the dust-up with a charge of assault on a police officer.
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Instead of a lengthy legal battle, he chose to plead guilty to the charge in exchange for two years' probation.
“When it’s your word against the police’s word, the court will always side with the police,” said John Lugo, an organizer at La Unidad Latina en Accion, an immigrant advocacy group. “Two years on probation sounds a lot better than up to 10 years in prison.”
Officer Spaulding has since been convicted on multiple counts of civil rights abuses and was sentenced Jan. 23, to five years in prison by a federal judge. His conviction was not a result of the incident in 2011.
Supporters of Marin argue that he was unfairly targeted, even profiled, by the East Haven Police and Spaulding. Consequently, his guilty plea should have no bearing on his immigration status, they say. Furthermore, many in the community believe the East Haven Police turned him in to ICE.
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Not so, says Police Lt. David Emerman.
“ICE was likely notified and began proceedings for deportation due to his felony conviction,” Emerman said. “However, it is not the police department that makes the notification after conviction.”
Alex Meyerovich, a Bridgeport, Conn. immigration attorney, said Marin has a long year in front of him while he fights deportation.
“It will come down to this man’s history,” Meyerovich added. “But this man will need both a good criminal defense attorney and an immigration lawyer who knows immigration issues.”