Deported farm worker files civil rights suit vs. troopers

A civil rights lawsuit against three New York State Troopers has been filed in U.S. District Court by Marcario Gilberto Reyes-Herrera, a man who worked on Penn Yan area farms for many years, but was deported to Mexico after a traffic stop in 2017.

Reyes-Herrera is represented by a group from the University of Buffalo School of Law — Supervising Attorney Nicole Hallett, and three student attorneys.

In court documents that were filed in early April, Reyes-Herrera is seeking compensatory and punitive damages determined by a jury.

Reyes-Herrera says he was arrested unlawfully by officers Jason Flaitz and Barbara Crosby at the direction of Sergeant Marci Trimble June 29, 2017 when he was a passenger in a truck, traveling to work.

The court document says the officers “blatantly disregarded” an executive memorandum which forbids state officers from using resources to detect and apprehend aliens suspected or wanted merely for violating civil immigration offenses. That memorandum states that an officer does not have the authority to inquire into a passenger’s immigration status during a traffic stop unless there is reason to believe the passenger is involved in criminal activity.

“The only thing the state troopers knew about him was the color of his skin and that he spoke Spanish; they had absolutely no probable cause on which to base the arrest” said Erin Barry, a student attorney working on the case in a statement released by the legal team.

The complaint document says Flaitz stopped the truck in which Reyes-Herrera was riding with two co-workers because the driver was not wearing a seatbelt. Flaitz issued tickets to the driver and the other passenger, who also was not wearing a seatbelt. When the trooper asked the two passengers for identification, Reyes-Herrera said he left his drivers license at home, and he did not disclose his immigration status.

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