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A Chinese woman who suffered multiple injuries at the hands of American border agents in a false arrest at Niagara Falls in 2004 was recently awarded $461,000 in damages by a federal judge.
Businesswoman Zhao Yan filed charges against the U.S. government back in 2006 after being arrested and beaten up by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officers. She had initially sought $10 million in her civil rights lawsuit.
On Monday, Judge Elizabeth Wolford ruled in favor of Yan during a non-jury trial in Rochester, New York, awarding Yan the amount in damages for her false arrest at the Rainbow Bridge U.S.-Canada border crossing in Niagara Falls. The amount also covers medical expenses, pain, and suffering and lost earnings, according to the Associated Press.
The U.S. government was found liable for Officer Robert Rhodes’ “assault and battery and false arrest” of the victim who was never even charged with anything.
Yan was reportedly entitled to $385,000 for the past and future pain and suffering, $64,000 in past medical expenses, $1,800 in lost earnings and $10,000 for a false arrest.
Images of the badly bruised and beaten Zhao sparked national outrage in China when they were published in 2004. Her face was also extremely swollen from pepper spray.
Zhao, who went on a business trip in the United States in 2004, was sightseeing at Niagara Falls when the incident happened.
Rhodes used pepper spray on Zhao, put his knee on her back and drove her head into the pavement. Prosecutors have noted that the agent used excessive force on the tourist.
While Rhodes was fired and charged with violating Zhao’s civil rights, he was eventually acquitted and even reinstated to his job less than a year later.
A civil trial in 2015 later found that Yan’s injuries were her own fault because she “ran from the officer and then kicked, punched and scratched him before two other officers arrived and helped restrain her on the ground.”
Yan and two other women had disobeyed officers’ orders to come inside the inspection station just after they had arrested a drug suspect who they initially suspected had contact with the women, including Yan.
Yan had claimed that she ran because she was frightened.
She said the entire incident had humiliated her and left her with physical and mental trauma which prevented her from working.