The two charges were “obstructing the highway” and “resisting an order directing, regulating, or controlling a motor vehicle,” and involved an incident on April 14, 2009, when Pastor Anderson refused a warrantless search of his vehicle at an internal border patrol checkpoint at mile marker 78 of eastbound I-8, 75 miles east of Yuma, AZ (55 miles north of the international border). The 1 hour and 15 minute standoff ended with Border Patrol and Arizona DPS officers shattering out the car’s windows, tasering Pastor Anderson for 18 seconds, and maliciously shoving his face into broken glass and roughing him up before taking him to the hospital and then ultimately to jail.
A six person jury from Wellton, AZ, found Pastor Anderson of Faithful Word Baptist Church not guilty on the count of “obstructing the highway.” When asked why, one of the jurors stated that “they were the ones who stopped [Pastor Anderson] and caused [him] to be in the roadway against [his] will, and they had no right to send [him] to secondary to be searched.”
The jury found Pastor Anderson not guilty of “resisting an order directing, regulating, or controlling a motor vehicle” because the statute states that you must be resisting an order from a peace officer directing your motor vehicle, and border patrol agents are not peace officers. The DPS officers who later arrived on the scene were peace offices, but although DPS Officer Jones testified in court that he twice ordered Pastor Anderson to move his car to secondary, video evidence revealed that in fact he never ordered Pastor Anderson to go to the secondary inspection area. He only ordered him to get out of his car, which is not an order regulating a motor vehicle. Therefore he could not have resisted an order that he never received. In addition, before Officer Jones even spoke with Pastor Anderson, he had already put stop sticks in front of the tires of the car which would have made it impossible for him to send Pastor Anderson to the secondary inspection area.
A few new facts about the incident surfaced in the course of the two day trial as the state’s witnesses were questioned and cross examined. A detective with DPS who is an expert in dog handling and dog training and which had actually had experience with the border patrol K-9, “Jerry C”, that supposedly alerted to “concealed humans or narcotics” in Pastor Anderson’s vehicle, explained that the dog did not actually alert to the Pastor’s vehicle. In his words, the dog “was on the fringe” or on the verge of an alert by dragging its handler toward the vehicle, but that an actual alert would have consisted of the dog sitting down where the supposed contraband was located. The dog never sat down.
Another discrepancy was clarified by the same witness about the length of time that Pastor Anderson was tasered. The first deployment of the taser lasted for 13 seconds, and the second deployment lasted for 5 seconds. It was previously thought that the two deployments were back-to-back, but the state’s witness produced evidence that there was a 3-4 second break between the 13 second deployment and the 5 second deployment. “I sure didn’t feel that break!” said Pastor Anderson. “That just tells me that the 50,000 volt torture session lasted for 22 seconds instead of 18 seconds.”
Another interesting piece of testimony was when DPS Officer Jones and DPS Officer Jeff Mitchell were questioned about the photographs showing large amounts of Pastor Anderson’s blood in the exact shape of his head on the jagged broken glass of what used to be the driver’s side window. Both officers stated that they had no clue as to how or why the Pastor’s head made contact with the jagged edge of the window. According to Pastor Anderson, one of the border patrol agents grabbed his head and purposely shoved it down into the broken glass while he was being tasered in order to “control” his head. The DPS officers stated that they were too far away to see Pastor Anderson being extracted, but that in all their many years of experience which included extracting people through open car doors many times, no one’s head had ever made contact with the broken window sill.
The two “not guilty” verdicts beg the question of why the Pastor was tasered and brutalized since according to Arizona statute, he had not broken any law. Pastor Anderson is suing the DPS and US Border Patrol on five counts: Negligence and/or Gross Negligence, False Arrest and Imprisonment, Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, Assault and Battery, and 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (Deprivation of Constitutional Rights).
As one of the six jurors shook Pastor Anderson’s hand on his way out of the courtroom, the juror told him, “Thanks for standing up for our rights as Americans.”