“A man brutally beaten by police in June after he surrendered and lay down on the ground is now at risk of being deported.
Police officers in Santa Ana, California, beat Edgar Vargas Arzate on June 20, according to surveillance video of the incident and interviews with Arzate’s attorney. Arzate, who has struggled with addiction and mental health issues, went to visit the house of a friend, apparently not realizing that the friend no longer lived there, according to his attorney, public defender Frank Bittar. The new residents saw Arzate mumbling incoherently outside their house and called police.
Arzate ran when he saw the officers, leading them on a roughly four-block chase before he surrendered in the front yard of a neighbor’s home, Bittar said. In the video, Arzate can be seen lying facedown on the ground. The officers then begin to savagely beat Arzate, punching, kicking and swinging a flashlight at him.
In the video, two officers on the opposite side of the fence look up and appear to notice the surveillance camera, then say something to the officers beating Arzate, who quickly move him out of view of the camera.
“He’s lucky he wasn’t put in a wheelchair,” Bittar told HuffPost.
Once he was taken into custody, Arzate was charged with assaulting a police officer. The charge was then enhanced to a higher-level felony when police accused him of having “personally inflicted great bodily injury” on one particular officer who claimed to have broken his hand, according to the charging document.
On Monday, Arzate, 27, who came to the U.S. without documentation as a teenager, was riding with family members to a preliminary hearing to face the charges. Suddenly, three unmarked cars pulled the family over and Arzate was quickly taken into custody by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents.
“They stopped them and made everyone get out of the car and then arrested my brother,” said Araceli Vargas, Arzate’s younger sister. “Right now he’s under immigration hold and we’re just waiting on a bail so we can get him out of jail again. I don’t know what’s going to happen next, honestly.”
“My mom told me that the ICE agents made her feel less than human,” Vargas continued. “My dad was so disappointed in the system. My grandpa was so scared, he’s been in bed since. My aunt started crying. Nothing had happened since June, he was just living his normal life, but we have cameras here and we saw the cars that stopped my brother yesterday morning — it was a gray Chevy Impala — they didn’t have markings, but they had been spying on us. They passed by the house at least four times that morning, so they knew what they were doing. Why did they wait until we were leaving the house and going to court?””
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