Canadian sf writer Peter Watts, whose arrest by border authorities immediately became an internet cause célèbre, appeared in St. Clair County (Michigan) District Court on December 22 for a preliminary examination before Judge John Monaghan.
A U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer testified that Watts refused to follow commands and choked him, according to the Port Huron (MI) Times Herald:
The officer, who has been with the agency for six years, said he attempted to get Watts out of the vehicle. In the process, Beaudry said the defendant grabbed either his uniform or jacket collar, choking him.
Beaudry said he used an elbow and leg strike to free himself and Watts exited the vehicle.
When the writer refused to follow orders to get on the ground, Beaudry said he sprayed him with pepper spray, and when Watts again didn’t respond to commands, he deployed his baton. He said Watts then got on the ground.
Judge Monaghan determined that Watts will face trial on a charge of assaulting and resisting arrest and bound his case over to the 31st Circuit Court of St. Clair County. A Circuit Court is the trial court with the broadest powers in Michigan, handling civil cases with claims of more than $25,000 and all criminal cases where the accused, if found guilty, could be sent to prison. If convicted, Watts faces up to two years in jail and a $2,000 fine.
People still question why Watts’ car was halted in the first place. During cross-examination, Watts’ defense lawyer “asked the officer why Watts was stopped for a vehicle inspection after he had paid to cross the bridge and enter Canada.” The news article doesn’t indicate that a direct answer to the question was given. Here is the reported response:
Beaudry said they were 10 to 15 feet past the toll booths doing the inspections, which aren’t done on a routine basis. He said it was the first vehicle they had stopped that shift. Beaudry wasn’t involved in stopping the vehicle for inspection.
[Via Steven H. Silver.]