One of four Iranian brothers detained for more than three years by immigration authorities got into a scuffle with a guard Saturday at the federal detention center where he is being held, officials said.
Iranian man accuses guard of beating; authorities say detainee threw first punch
LOS ANGELES - One of four Iranian brothers detained for more than three years by immigration authorities got into a scuffle with a guard Saturday at the federal detention center where he is being held, officials said.
Although the officials and the detainee agreed an altercation occurred, they differed substantially on most other details.
Authorities reported a guard came into a section of the detention center to tell detainees about the status of a fellow prisoner who was ill and that an altercation broke out when 34-year-old Mohammed Mirmehdi shoved the guard. Both men fell against a door and onto the concrete floor, causing them to suffer minor bruises, said Virginia Kice, a spokeswoman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Mirmehdi said the guard beat and choked him and shoved him against a door before eventually taking him to the ground with a knee at his neck and handcuffing him on the floor.
Kice said the incident began shortly before noon when a detainee returning to the 60-bed dormitory collapsed from severe abdominal pains and was taken for medical care.
A guard then went in to explain what had happened, "because incidents like that can cause alarm among detainees," Kice said.
She said one of the Mirmehdi brothers, later identified as Mohammed, approached the guard and got very close to him.
"The guard asked him to step back, and Mirmehdi hit him," she said. A scuffle ensued, Kice said, causing the guard to fall against the door. The door swung open, and both men fell on the concrete floor, she said.
She said authorities were reviewing the incident.
Mirmehdi denied punching the guard. He told The Associated Press in a phone interview from ICE's San Pedro Processing Center that he heard the fellow inmate yelling because an officer refused to let him use the bathroom and was laughing at the man.
Mirmehdi said he then saw the officer arguing with his brother and approached them.
He said the guard grabbed his hand, punched him in the face and abdomen and backed him into an anteroom leading to the dormitory.
"He dragged me to the holding area and started beating me with the handcuffs. I tried to protect myself and get away," Mirmehdi said.
His brother Mohsen said Mirmehdi was hit without cause.
Mirmehdi said the guard pushed him against the door of a storage room, but he was able to grab the guard's hands. Another officer approached and ordered Mirmehdi to turn around.
Mirmehdi said he was then pushed to the floor, with a knee against his neck and handcuffed before he was eventually taken to a separate holding room where a nurse checked his bruises and gave him Advil.
Stacy Tolchin, an attorney for Mirmehdi, said she was looking into the incident.
"He's very shook up," she said. "He's never had this happen before."
Mirmehdi is in the process of appealing his deportation orders. He and his brothers were arrested in October 2001 following an FBI investigation into a Los Angeles-based cell of the Moujahedeen Khalq, which opposes Iran's regime.
An immigration appeals board ruled the brothers did not have ties to terrorism but upheld their deportations because they were in the country illegally.
The government agreed in February to release them while they await deportation, but the brothers opposed the conditions of their release and remain at the ICE processing center.
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