Bressi v. Napier, No. 4:18-cv-00186-DCB (D. Ariz., amended complaint filed July 2, 2018)
On July 2, 2018, Plaintiff Terry Bressi filed an amended complaint against Pima County Sheriff Mark Napier and other county defendants alleging that they violated his First and Fourth Amendment rights when Sheriff’s deputies arrested him at a Border Patrol checkpoint in April 2017 after refusing to answer Border Patrol’s citizenship questions. Bressi has also lodged a federal notice of claim against the Border Patrol based on the same incident.
Bressi, who has traveled the same route since 1993 from his Tucson home to his rural worksite west of Tucson, has contended many times with the abuses and excesses of the Border Patrol. For example, Mr. Bressi previously sued another local police agency when a deputy illegally detained him at a Border Patrol checkpoint. See Bressi v. Ford, 575 F.3d 891, 894 (9th Cir. 2009).
On April 10, 2017, Bressi was returning home from work when he passed through the Border Patrol checkpoint. Consistent with his personal opposition to the existence of interior checkpoints, Bressi refused to answer the Border Patrol’s questions. Shortly after, a Pima County Sheriff’s deputy – who was stationed at the checkpoint under a federal grant program called Operation Stonegarden – took over the interaction with Bressi and insisted that he answer the Border Patrol’s questions. Eventually, the deputy arrested Bressi and placed him in handcuffs, purportedly because Bressi had “obstructed” the highway.
This lawsuit alleges that the deputy retaliated against Bressi for exercising his First Amendment right not to answer Border Patrol’s questions. Additionally, the lawsuit alleges that the pervasive presence of local law enforcement at the Border Patrol checkpoint materially altered the nature of the checkpoint itself, rendering the whole checkpoint unconstitutional under the long-standing Fourth Amendment principle that permanent checkpoints are permitted only for limited immigration-related purposes and not for the “general interest in crime control.” The federal defendants answered the complaint on October 2, 2019. The Pima County defendants moved to dismiss the case.
On April 17, 2020, the court granted the motion to dismiss in part. Although the court dismissed Bressi’s claim that defendants improperly retaliated against him for exercising his First Amendment right not to speak during an immigration stop, Bressi’s Fourth Amendment claims regarding the constitutionality of the checkpoint and his arrest survive.
As of June 2021 discovery is still ongoing.
- Notice of Claim Pursuant to A.R.S. § 12-821.01
- First Amended Complaint
- Motion to Dismiss
- Opposition to Motion to Dismiss
- Order Granting in Part and Denying in Part Motion to Dismiss
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