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Yesterday, the New Haven Register (NHR) published a massive 1660 word article on Mark Boughton's deposition in the Danbury 11 civil lawsuit that provides startling new details regarding the mayor's testimony in the case.
Over three times longer than News-Times Dirk Perrefort's July 9th article, New Haven Register reporter Mary O'Leary provided several important details in the testimony of Boughton and officers for the Danbury police department that was noticeably absent in the News-Times write-up.
The first paragraph of O'Leary's article outlines the mayor appearing to admit that using a traffic violation as a pretext for checking a person's immigration status is wrong. According to the NHR report, the problem with the mayor's statement is that Danbury police officers testified that they used this pretext in picking up the day laborers.
Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton, testifying under oath in a recent deposition for a civil rights lawsuit, agreed that using a traffic violation as a pretext to inquire about someone’s legal status is wrong, even though his police department rounded up a group of immigrants in 2006 on a crime they were never charged with.
That issue goes to the heart of the suit filed by a Yale Law School clinic against Danbury officials and Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, charging that they had racially profiled 11 men in violation of their due process and unreasonable search protections when they were arrested in a sting operation in September 2006.
The suit concerns the events of Sept. 19, 2006 at Kennedy Park, when a Danbury police officer, posing as a contractor, picked up the 11 day laborers and drove them to another parking lot, where immigration officials were waiting. They were processed in Danbury by its police. Subsequently, ICE sent them to immigration facilities around the country, several as far away as Texas.
In their own depositions, Danbury police officers testified that the men were picked up for an alleged traffic violation, such as “illegal use of the highway by a pedestrian,” as they approached stopped vehicles seeking workers, but the men were never charged with any such infraction, according to the booking records.
The only charge was illegal entry into the U.S., which is a federal violation.
To the best of my knowledge, this critical piece of testimony from Boughton and the Danbury Police Department never appeared in any of the News-Times articles on the case.
Even more troubling is this portion of Boughton's testimony.
Boughton said he did not know about the arrests or any planning leading up to them, and was not aware that the men had been booked by Danbury police until about a year ago, something he became aware of “through this case,” referring to the civil rights suit.
He said that’s when he learned about “courtesy booking and understood that we provide courtesy booking for the FBI, the DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration), as well as ICE or anybody else that asks for it.”
The problem with this portion of the mayor's testimony is that the revelation that the Danbury Police Department booked the day laborers came out back in 2007 in the Danbury 11 deportation case, which is different than the civil case. In fact, I reported on this in an AUDIO interview I did with Yale Law Student Simon Moshenberg back on Sept 18 2007.
Back when the civil case was announced, I also specifically asked the law students about when they learned about DanburyPD's role in the case. Also, during Boughton's press conference on the day the civil suit was filed, the mayor was questioned by the media about the disclosure in the deportation proceedings that the city played a larger role in the raid.
If O'Leary's reporting of the mayor's testimony is accurate, it appears that Boughton is not telling the truth about when he learned about the day laborers being booked by Danbury PD…something that did not appear in Perrefort's article although he had a copy of Boughton's deposition.
NHR O'Leary asked several attorney's, including the attorney who defended former Danbury Mayor Jim Dyer against income tax fraud charges in the 1980s for their take on the Boughton's "courtesy booking" terminology.
“There is no such thing,” said Hugh Keefe, a well-known criminal defense lawyer, of the term “courtesy booking.” He said he’s heard of FBI officers using a police facility to fill out their own paperwork, but not local police booking federal suspects.
“Danbury has a lot of real crime. It seems to me they have their hands full already. This is clearly a pretext arrest. When was the last time you heard of a police department arresting someone for being an unsafe pedestrian?” Keefe asked.
Also absent in all of the News-Times articles on the case are the quotes from an ICE agent and DanburyPD found in previous court documents that appear to contradict Boughton's comments.
In numerous news accounts at the time of the Sept. 19, 2006 arrests, Boughton said the operation was not ordered by the city, but was rather a federal operation that Danbury assisted with, based on information he received at the time from Police Chief Alan Baker.
ICE agent James Brown, according to court documents, rejected that description. “He (Boughton) said the city did not order the operation, that ICE was already on the way. That is not correct, not for this activity that we are talking about on Sept. 19,” Brown testified.
Danbury police Lt. James Fisher, in a separate deposition, testified that Danbury police initiated the action by seeking ICE assistance, which ICE approved after the third or fourth request. ICE agent Richard McCaffrey in his deposition, said Boughton was pressuring the police chief, who pressured the department’s Special Investigations Division “to do something about” the day laborers at Kennedy Park.
I highly recommend that you go to the New Haven Register and read the entire article and re-read Perrefort's News-Times piece. Afterwards, ask yourself which article is more informative and why are key portions of Boughton's testimony absent in Perrefort’s write-up.
NOTE:The New Haven Register revised the headline of the article online but several websites copied the original headline before it was altered.