Sunday, July 17, 2005

The Morning Retch: Don't speak Spanish to a riot cop

This one really is stranger than fiction. An 11 year old girl was playing with younger siblings; neighborhood boys tease the children; she throws a rock at one, hits him, he bleeds; she tries to apologize -- and the Fresno police jail her and charge her with felony assault.

Oh yes, Maribel Cuevas and her family have trouble speakingn English. Excerpts from the story:

"She's 11 ... they're treating her like she's a violent parole offender," said Richard Beshwate, Jr., Maribel's lawyer. ...

Officers denied that their response was influenced by the setting — a low-income, largely minority neighborhood — or language difficulties — Maribel's family speaks limited English, and the responding [officers] don't speak Spanish. ...

Guadalupe Cuevas couldn't communicate with the officers, because she doesn't speak English, and was pushed away when she tried to reach her daughter. Maribel was crying, the police report said, but Officer Christopher Green, who handcuffed her, wrote, "We were able to get Cuevas into the back of the patrol vehicle." ...The police report said Green read Maribel her Miranda rights twice, in English. The report also lists the girl's emotional state as "apologetic" and "hysterical."

Guadalupe Cuevas said didn't understand what was happening. "The officer was just saying, 'I don't care, I don't care,'" Guadalupe Cuevas said in Spanish. "He told my nephew he didn't speak his kind of English."

Fortunately the Cuevas family belongs to a church who got them a lawyer. She'll still be traumatized, but we can hope Maribel will go through life without a criminal record.


janinsanfran said...

No shit. They are going to try her for felony assault tomorrow! Chronicle story here.

The defense has a web site here.

janinsanfran said...

This afternoon the Fresno Bee reports:

Probation ordered for Cuevas
An 11-year-old girl who faced a felony assault for throwing a rock at a boy will serve six months informal probation, a judge said today.

Maribel Cuevas who injured Elijah Vang with the rock on April 29 will also have to shake hands and apologize as part of a reconciliation process, said her attorney, Richard Beshwate.

Beshwate said both sides agreed on the punishment before Maribel's trial, expected to begin today. They agreed not to require Maribel to admit to a criminal offense, he said.

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