A Canadian who demanded courtesy from a U.S. border security guard says he was pepper sprayed and held in custody for three hours for asking the disrespectful officer to "say please" when ordering him to turn his car off during a search.So let's review this, shall we?
"I refused to turn off the car until he said please. He didn't. And he has the gun, I guess, so he sprayed me," said Desiderio Fortunato, a Coquitlam, B.C., resident who frequently crosses the border to visit his second home in the state of Washington. "Is that illegal in the United States, asking an officer to be polite?"
The incident occurred on Monday at the Aldergrove border crossing, east of Vancouver, shortly after 12 p.m. Mr. Fortunato, a dance studio director, was traveling to his home in Blaine, Wash., to retrieve a wallet his wife had left during their most recent visit.
He said he was questioned by a border officer who demanded he turn off his car and, when asked to make the request more politely, threatened to spray him with his pepper gun if he did not comply.
"I just felt I should stand my ground about it. I should not be treated like that. No matter what kind of position you are in, if you want respect you have to show respect," he said yesterday. "I asked him three times and when I didn't turn the car off, because he didn't say please, he pepper sprayed me.... It was terrible. For half an hour or so I couldn't see anything."
Mr. Fortunato said after he was sprayed he was forcefully taken into custody by several officers. He was held for three hours before he was released without being allowed entry into the United States. Mr. Fortunato says he was dismissed with a warning to be more cooperative in the future.
A spokesperson for U.S. Customs and Border Protection said officers are trained on how to handle confrontation, and refusal to comply with a direct order is justification to use capsicum spray, also known as pepper spray, or other "soft techniques" such as physical holds.
"The combination of training and experience is what our officers use to communicate with passenger on a day-today basis. Our officers will give direct orders or commands to passengers, especially in situations where there may be a safety concern. It is the obligation of the passenger to be compliant with those," said spokesperson Mike Milne.
He added that officers order border passengers to turn of their vehicles when they want to take somebody from a car and, in such cases, further questioning would be conducted inside the building.
While he could not comment on the specific case, Mr. Milne said the use of force at a border crossing is very rare, very serious and subject to immediate review.
By his own admission, Mr. Fortunato is a stickler for courtesy and respect. The Portuguese native, who has lived in B.C. for 25 years and has owned his second home in Washington for three, pulled a similar stunt at the same border crossing about one year ago. In that case, he was ordered to wait hours to be questioned before being allowed to cross.
OUR border. OUR country. Jackass who would like to come in decides to give our Customs and Immigration staff a hard time, basically for no reason other than just to be a jerk. When he's given a simple instruction--not a request, but an instruction--he refuses to comply, no doubt sitting there with a cheese-eating grin on his face as he dares the officer to either submit to his attempt at dominance or do something about it.
Well the officer, after repeating the instruction three times and being told "no" by Fortunato, does something about it. He controls Fortunato and forces him to comply.
Good for him. I support the officer 100% and if it were up to me, Fortunato would be barred from crossing that border for a year at least and required to write the officer a nice apology letter. I occasionally had to deal with assholes like this when I was on the street so I know what the officer was going through. I would walk up to someone's car after stopping them for a traffic infraction and I would tell them politely but firmly to turn the car off. It wasn't optional and it wasn't a request, but I still said "please" even though I wasn't asking. Most people complied, but every now and then, I'd get some arrogant SOB who wanted to show me that he's the one in charge on the side of the road.
"Why?" he'd ask.
"Because I told you to." End of discussion, right there. If I was feeling particularly conversant, I might have told them how I was dragged by a guy who didn't turn his car off one day several years ago, and how I was forced to shoot that guy. Ever since then, I've had a thing about peoples' cars running when I'm trying to conduct business with them. So all the cars get shut off now, for my safety and theirs. And when someone decided to challenge my simple instruction, "Officer Friendly" went away and "Officer you-aren't-going-to-like-what-happens-next" took over. Almost everyone got the message when my tone and position next to their door changed, but there were a couple who found out just how quickly I could open their door and turn it off myself. And I wasn't in the mood for writing warnings after that happened. Contrary to popular opinion in some loon quarters, police officers don't go to work every day hoping that they get to shoot someone. And when some tool decides to re-create the situation in which I've had to do just that thing...well you figure out how that goes over. And I'm not the only officer that assesses such actions as potential threats and responds according to training or past experience. Fortunato was lucky that he only got a face full of pepper spray.
You see, Fortunato, you aren't doing us a favor by coming into our country and we don't have to let you come in, even if you did buy a house here. We have some hard-working people on that border trying to keep the bad guys out--bad guys who would kill you personally in a heartbeat if they could--and here you are, trying to be an ass just because you have a case of "little penis syndrome".
Well now you know how it works. I'll bet that the next time one of our border police officers tell you to turn your car off, you'll do it. And I'll be honest in that I really don't care how my brothers on the border talk to you. All I care about is that they go home at the end of their shifts because they weren't distracted by some horse's ass, causing them to miss a clue that something very bad was about to happen.
You want to play games? Go to the playground. Preferably one back in Canada.