Trial Opens Over Raid on Elian Gonzalez
Mon Jan 24, 2:28 PM ET U.S. National - AP
MIAMI - A trial opened Monday in a $3 million-plus lawsuit by 13 people who say they were injured or traumatized when federal agents seized a screaming Elian Gonzalez from his Miami relatives' home.
The opening witness was neighbor Maria Riera, who testified that she clutched her chest and thought she was dying when an agent doused her with tear gas during the April 22, 2000, raid to reunite the 6-year-old boy with his father in Cuba.
The 13 neighbors and protesters are seeking up to $250,000 each, claiming that agents used excessive force during the armed raid.
"I was stopped by a gentleman on my left approaching me with a shotgun," said Riera, who lived across the street from the home where the boy had lived since shortly after he was rescued from a shipwreck on Thanksgiving Day 1999.
She said a black-garbed agent wearing a mask ordered her to "stand back" or he would shoot, adding a word of profanity. She said she complied, but a second agent approached with a gas gun as she stood in her driveway and left her in a gray cloud of tear gas.
A total of 108 people sued over the raid, but U.S. District Judge K. Michael Moore limited the case to people who were not on the Gonzalez family property and were beyond police barricades.
Elian, now 11, was one of three survivors of a shipwreck that killed his mother.
The raid took place after the family refused to return the boy so he could be taken back to Cuba.
This stuff used to bother me. Now I just laugh.
108 people sued...unbelievable.
Where are all these lawsuit's when the "dawgs" are running around with their sub-guns and sawed-offs... while screaming profanities?