The Commonwealth Ports Authority officer, who is currently facing allegations of excessive force, has denied all the accusations made against him.
Commonwealth Ports Authority police officer Jason Cruz, the CPA officer alleged to have used excessive force when arresting Shanguo Zhang, claims he did not do anything wrong.
Cruz, through his lawyer Robert T. Torres, denied Zhang’s allegations, asked the court to deny all relief requested by the plaintiff, and to dismiss the complaint and claims with prejudice altogether.
Torres argued that his client’s use of force was “objectively reasonable and necessary given plaintiff’s violent action, tensing up when being detained and subdued and uncooperative behavior while being detained.”
Moreover, Cruz has qualified immunity and immunity to claims for attorney’s fees, Torres said.
“The conduct of Cruz was privileged by and under law,” his lawyer added.
Torres said CPA and Cruz are immune from punitive damages.
In addition, he said his client was justified in his use of force which was “objectively reasonable under the totality of the circumstances.”
Torres said his client has no civil liability for his justified conduct.
His client likewise reserves the right to assert any and all affirmative defenses not identified, the basis for which may come to light through discovery as this matter proceeds.
Recently, Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona of the District Court for the NMI found that the complaint of Zhang had sufficiently stated a plausible Section 1983 excessive force claim against Cruz, in his individual capacity, for monetary damages.
In his complaint, Zhang asserted claims for false arrest, excessive force, and deliberate indifference in violation of the Fourth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments against local police officers and the CNMI government.
Zhang, a homeless Chinese citizen, alleged that on Jan. 27, 2020, he was arrested by a police officer, whose identity is not known at this time.
He said the officer did not give him a written document for his arrest, and yet he was detained for 94 days.
Then in June 2021, he was again arrested several times at the Saipan airport by police officers stationed there. Specifically, on June 4, 2021, he said he was arrested by officers Timothy Cruz and Frank Indalecio. On June 10, 2021, he was arrested by Stevie Cabrera and Timothy Cruz, and on June 14, 2021, he was arrested by Stevie A. Cabrera.
According to Zhang, for each of these arrests, he did not commit any offense, and that the officers arrested him “intentionally to harass [him] and to deprive [him] of [his] rights.”
On June 15, 2021, Zhang threw a rock at a window at the Saipan airport to protest his mistreatment and then presented himself to be arrested.
Zhang’s complaint stated that Cruz used force and violently pulled Zhang to the ground, even though Zhang was not resisting, resulting in physical injuries to Zhang.