Thursday, September 25, 2008

Illegal immigrant rethinks 911 call (Raleigh News & Observer)

Illegal immigrant rethinks 911 call
He reported a robbery; now, he's in jail and his brother is in federal custody

Published: Sep 24, 2008 12:30 AM
Lorenzo Perez, Staff Writer

RALEIGH - A Mexican immigrant who was robbed in his Knightdale home last week called 911 for help, but now he faces a criminal charge of his own.

Self-employed mechanic Jose Luis Segura-Rios said he has lived illegally in the United States for at least 15 years. The turn of events that landed him in jail and his brother in the custody of federal immigration authorities for scheduled deportation has Segura-Rios and his attorney questioning the case's impact on the willingness of illegal immigrants to seek police help as crime victims.

Segura-Rios was charged with a forgery count of common-law uttering after investigators determined he had provided them false identification and misrepresented who he was after the Sept. 16 robbery, according to the Wake County Sheriff's Office.

Search warrants indicate that at least one of the suspects who broke into the Terry Lane house Segura-Rios shared with his brother and two other men was asked whether the motive for the robbery was to recover more than $200,000 from a cocaine deal. The warrant does not say why the investigators think the robbery was drug-related.

According to the search warrants, no drugs, drug paraphernalia or money related to the alleged transaction were recovered from the home, however, and Segura-Rios denied knowledge of any drug dealing in a Tuesday interview from the Wake County jail. Also, Segura-Rios said that as the robbers fled his home, a Wake County sheriff's deputy struck him in the leg with a baton as he tried to explain the robbers were getting away.

Asked whether he regretted calling 911 for help, Segura-Rios said Tuesday, "I'd have to think hard about it, because look what happens when you call 911. You end up losing, because you have no one protecting you."

Wake Sheriff Donnie Harrison said his department had little choice but to contact U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement for assistance after they determined Segura-Rios and two other men misrepresented their identities in follow-up interviews after the robbery.

"What we've got is a situation where we're investigating a home invasion, but the victims, for whatever reason, are giving us false information. So ICE assisted us, as they have in the past," Harrison said Tuesday. "Once ICE gets in that mode, I back away from it, but my concern was we need to know who we're dealing with, victims and suspects. Because if we're going to put a case together, we need to have the victims come in and testify."

Harrison added that his department did not detain Segura-Rios and the other robbery victims the night of the incident. But Segura-Rios' attorney, Robert E. Nunley, said that the sheriff's office tricked his client and the three other residents of the home into returning later for fingerprinting. Nunley said the four men were told investigators needed their fingerprints to distinguish them from other prints in the home following the robbery.

After they came to the sheriff's office to provide fingerprints, Nunley said, they were taken into custody. One of the four men living in the home had proper identification, according to investigators, and was later released.

"I'm rather offended by the heavy-handedness. I'm offended by the deception," Nunley said.

Harrison disputed, however, that his agency actively seeks to determine a crime victim's residency status whenever they call 911.

"If they call, we're coming," he said. "If the victims are truthful with us, [and] haven't committed any violations of the law, we don't care [about their residency status]," Harrison said. "At that point, we're trying to protect them just like we would anybody else. But when they start lying to us during our investigation, that throws up a red flag."

No comments: