Police apologize, pay up for unlawful arrest of immigrant

American Civil Liberties Union attorneys have settled a case with the Palmer Police Department in the unlawful arrest of a Peruvian immigrant who was brutally beaten by three men after he came to the defense of a female bartender.

The settlement announced on Sept. 11 included a written apology from the city of Palmer, a change in the department’s procedures dealing with immigration warrants and detainers and $50,000 in compensation for the immigrant, Alex Caceda, who is in the United States legally, married to an American citizen, and in the process of becoming a citizen himself.

Caceda was at Klondike Mike’s Saloon and Road House in Palmer on Aug. 27 when he came to the defense of the bartender and was subsequently beaten. The ACLU of Alaska said when police showed up they identified the attackers and handcuffed them. When they learned that Caceda was an immigrant, they released the attackers, arrested Caceda and took him to the Mat-Su Pretrial Facility, where he was kept in jail for four days. Caceda was then turned over to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement and released by ICE.

“When local police officers unlawfully target immigrants, they damage their departments relationship with their community and make us all less safe,” said Joshua A. Decker, executive director of the ACLU of Alaska. “We hope law enforcement leaders all over Alaska will take notice that if they arrest anyone just for being undocumented they too will be held accountable.

The ACLU said they will be sending a letter to every chief of police in the state explaining the outcome of this case and asking them to review their own department’s policies with their rank and file officers.