Peter Watts To Face Trial

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.]

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3 thoughts on “Peter Watts To Face Trial

  1. oy vey. sounds like the wagons are circling. I just bet that the customs officer was ‘merely trying to assist Peter’ to exit the vehicle.

    I hope his defense attorney has a good investigator on retainer – they need to find out the names of ALL of the officers on the shift, because the newspaper article says to me (between the lines) that some of the officers present disagree with what’s going on, but are honoring the cover for your buddies system.

    Find out how many times Mr. 6 years with customs has had physical encounters, etc., etc.

    Pete’s being railroaded for sure. Does anyone he knows have any political connections in Washington? I hope so. Reach out and touch them, otherwise, Pete is going to have some uninterrupted writing time on his hands: the more public this thing becomes, the more books they’re gonna throw at him.

  2. Steve, I think it is likelier to move the search for truth in the right direction to pay attention to what the participants are actually saying about the altercation. I have seen a lot of examples of this tendency for bloggers to be too smart to believe anything anybody says, which leaves them inventing lines for the participants out of their own heads based on whatever the writer needs the truth to be. Some people need the story to be that uniformed bastards randomly picked on a peaceloving sf writer and beat the crap out of him. Others need to believe that nothing of the kind could happen unless the fellow in the car provoked it. The statements on Watts’ blog and the condensed testimony in a couple of newspaper articles just aren’t enough to support the extremes or an alternative narrative that accounts for everything.

  3. It may be that political connections in Washington would be of no help to the defense, as while I’ve seen no authoritative statement to the effect, there have been weblog posts claiming that the local Assistant United States Attorney declined to prosecute the case, and that the prosecution is being handled at the state level by the local District Attorney (or whatever the equivalent title is in that Michigan county).

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