US govt settles teacher’s police brutality suit

The U.S. government has settled a lawsuit filed by a visiting teacher who sued eight Customs & Border Protection Service officers in federal court for allegedly denying her entry to Saipan on suspicion that she was pregnant, handcuffing her, having her face slammed against the wall, and placing her in isolation for 22 hours.

Yu Min Zhao, represented by her lawyer, Samuel I. Mok, dropped the lawsuit.

Assistant U.S. attorney Mikel W. Schwab and Mok asked the U.S. District Court for the NMI to dismiss Zhao’s lawsuit, saying the parties’ settlement agreement have been satisfied as of Wednesday.

Each party shall bear their own costs and fees, including attorneys’ fees.

The parties agreed that their settlement agreement would not be filed in court.

At a March 30, 3018, conference held before U.S. District Court for the NMI Magistrate Judge Heather L. Kennedy, Mok disclosed the terms of their settlement deal.

The U.S. government’s counsel also disclosed that the agreement has no effect on Zhao’s immigration status and that she was not subject to a lifetime bar to enter the U.S.

Zhao was present at the settlement conference via video teleconference.

According to Mok in the complaint, the incident happened on Oct. 18, 2013, at 3:10am, soon after Zhao and her husband, Jian Li, arrived at the Francisco Ada/Saipan International Airport from Beijing via a China Eastern Airlines charter flight.

Li was questioned first and, after a series of routine questions, was admitted. When it was Zhao’s turn, the same CBP officer asked her how many months she’s pregnant and referred her to another CBP officer for further questioning and inspection.

The second CBP officer allegedly accused her of being several months pregnant and ordered her to open her bag for inspection.

Mok said Zhao was later denied entry, handcuffed, placed in detention, and was subjected to physical and verbal abuse.

In July 2016, Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona dismissed two of Zhao’s three claims against the U.S. government.

The U.S. government did not move for dismissal of Zhao’s third claim for assault and battery.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a veteran journalist who has covered all news beats in the CNMI. Born in Lilo-an, Cebu City in the Philippines, De la Torre graduated from the University of Santo Tomas with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. He is a recipient of many commendations and awards, including the CNMI Judiciary’s prestigious Justice Award for his over 10 years of reporting on the judiciary’s proceedings and decisions. Contact him at ferdie_delatorre@saipantribune.com

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