The ICE-Man Cometh: The Disturbing History Of ICE Agent Bradley Epley

The ICE-MAN COMETH:

The Disturbing History of Bradley Epley, an ICE Agent Involved in the Shooting of Jose Fernando Andrade-Sanchez, an Undocumented Man in Tennessee

By Alexandria Huff

This Post was first seen in Die Barliner – The Bard College Student Blog

As activists around the United States mobilize against the unacceptable conditions inside of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention facilities, the agency continues its operations on the ground in American cities. On September 5th, Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers shot Jose Fernando Andrade-Sanchez in his car as he attempted to leave the Food Lion parking lot in Antioch, Tennessee, a suburb of Nashville.

The shooting, which occurred in broad daylight at a heavily trafficked intersection, left the 39-year-old Mexican man alive but with bullet wounds in his stomach and his elbow that required surgery at a Nashville area hospital. At the end of the day on September 6th, local students were so disoriented that their teachers rode home with them on the school bus. “There was such a concern and fear in the community because children didn’t know what they were coming back to [after the shooting]. And it’s all because of this one ICE agent who has no accountability to anybody,” Brenda Perez of The MIX, said in an interview with Democracy Now.

Bradley Thomas Epley, a 49-year-old former Border Patrol officer, was one of the two Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents present in the Food Lion parking lot on September 5th. Though ICE spokesperson Brian Cox told reporters that Andrade-Sanchez drove towards the officer as he fled the scene, video footage shows an agent drawing his gun and following the vehicle, and firing two shots through the windshield.

A closer look at Bradley Epley’s history as an Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agent reveals allegations of illegal activity, violence and at least two cases of mistaken identity. Epley was named in two federal lawsuits alleging illegal search and seizure in 2010. Both lawsuits were settled out of court.

In 2017, Epley arrested Faustino Rodriguez Hernandez in a Nashville courthouse on federal immigration charges. Hernandez had appeared in court that day to settle a traffic violation. In July of 2019, Epley was in the news again when he and another ICE official attempted a warrantless arrest of a Hendersonville man and were blocked by a human chain of the man’s neighbors. Many Americans, including some politicians (after being pressured by directly affected communities), are seeking to abolish ICE. The cruelty and incompetence of the agency is illustrated by taking a closer look at the public record of an agent like Bradley Epley.

The first federal lawsuit in which Bradley Epley appears was brought by David Tapia-Tovar and Ana Maria Vazquez. Epley was named as one of several ICE officers who forced their way into Tapia-Tovar’s home, grabbed him by the arm and forced him into his living room as other officers then searched the house without a warrant. A complaint filed on Tapia-Tovar and Vazquez’s behalf in Nashville district court reveals that not only did the ICE officers force their way into Tapia-Tovar’s home without a warrant, but that Tapia-Tovar was not the intended target of the search:

53. As he sat handcuffed on the couch, David asked the first ICE agent why he and the others had entered their home.

54. In reply, one ICE agent held a file folder a few feet in front of David’s face. Attached to the front of the folder was a large photograph of a man of Latino appearance.

55. The man in the photograph bore no resemblance to David. His skin was darker, his nose was wider, and his eyes were set differently.

56. No reasonable person could mistake the man in the photograph for David.

57. Printed on the cover of the ICE folder was the name “David Tovar-Najera.”

58. David and Anna had never known or even heard of a person named David Tovar-Najera before this encounter. [*1]

Tapia-Tovar, an undocumented immigrant, was removed from his home and taken to the ICE office where deportation proceedings were initiated. His complaint alleges that Epley lied to the immigration court about how ICE agents were able to enter Tapia-Tovar’s home. Epley also stated that “[Tapia-Tovar] had entered the United States at an unknown time of day and at an unknown location,” which is the “policy and practice of the Nashville ICE Office…when completing ICE database processing of suspected aliens ICE agents encounter,” the complaint states. The lawsuit calls Epley’s statement “[another] utter and transparent fabrication.” The lawsuit, which was filed by Ozment Law, was settled out of court.

The second lawsuit Epley appeared in that year was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on behalf of fifteen plaintiffs, including American citizens, who lived at the Claremont Apartments in South Nashville. They were illegally detained by Epley and other officers when they raided the complex without a warranton October 20, 2010, leading to the arrest of twenty people. Lindsay Kee of the ACLU of Tennessee described the scene:

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents began hitting objects against the bedroom windows, trying to break in. Without a search warrant and without consent, the ICE agents eventually knocked in the front door and shattered a window, shouting racial slurs and storming into the bedrooms, holding guns to some people’s heads. When asked if they had a warrant, one agent reportedly said, “We don’t need a warrant, we’re ICE,” and, gesturing to his genitals, “the warrant is coming out of my balls.” [*2]

The lawsuit alleged that Epley and the other ICE officers at the Clairmont Apartments physically and verbally abused the plaintiffs, including pointing guns at the heads of two men, Jesus Villalobos and Javier Deras. The city and federal government settled the lawsuit for $310,000.

Whether Epley or the other agents cited in these lawsuits were punished by Immigration and Customs Enforcement is unknown.

In June 2017, in the months following Donald Trump’s inauguration, Bradley Epley arrested 33-year-old Faustino Rodriguez Hernandez in a Nashville courthouse. Hernandez is an Hounduran man who was in the court of General Sessions Judge Lynda Jones for a traffic violation; he had been caught driving without a license. The ICE officials on site took him into custody on an ICE warrant, which was not signed by a judge and doesn’t allow court officers to detain an individual on ICE’s behalf. Assistant Public Defender Mary Kathryn Harcombe told The Tennessean that court employees typically don’t understand the distinction between an ICE warrant and a standard warrant and might have illegally detained Hernandez, who was handed over to Epley while Judge Jones was out of the room. In an admission to The Tennessean via email, Judge Lynda Jones said that Epley nearly arrested the wrong man earlier that day: “The agent [Epley] informed my court officer that the true warranted individual was the ‘spittin image’ of the gentleman who was almost wrongfully arrested. My court officer stated that the ICE agent then said, ‘TRUST ME.’”

On the morning of July 22, 2019, Epley and another officer arrived in the Nashville suburb of Hermitage in a white pickup truck, and pulled into the driveway of an unnamed family home, blocking a van that the man and his son were sitting in. The man and his son locked themselves in their car to avoid the ICE agents, initiating a four-hour-long standoff. The Nashville Scene reports that more than a dozen of the man’s neighbors, as well as local immigrant rights activists, gathered in the front yard with snacks, water, cool towels to fight against the heat and gas to keep the van running. Like the warrant Epley brought to the Nashville courthouse, the warrant on July 22 had not been signed by a judge and did not allow officers to forcibly enter the man’s car or home. The MIX reports that at one point the father and son were told by an ICE agent, “We’ll just call the cops and they’ll arrest you, and then when they’re done with you in the jail, then we’ll get you.” Metro Nashville Police Department (MNPD) officers were on the scene during the standoff.

Eventually the man’s neighbors made a human chain so he and his son could safely exit the car and re-enter their home. By 10 AM, Epley, his fellow officer, and the MNPD left the scene. The attempted arrest was conducted as a part of President Trump’s Operation Border Resolve, which targeted 2,000 families and resulted in 35 arrests. Local resident Angela Glass told the Scene, “These people, they’ve been living there for 14 years,” Glass says. “They don’t bother anybody. Our kids play with their kids. It’s just one big community. And we don’t want to see anything happen to them. They’re good people. They’ve been here 14 years, leave them alone.”

On 17 September, 2019, less than a month after being shot by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, Jose Fernando Andrade-Sanchez was arrested outside Ozment Law, an  immigration law office in Nashville, Tennessee. Ozment Law, which in twenty years has never had an enforcement operation conducted on its property, said in a statement:

“Immigration agents’ decision to make a violent, aggressive arrest on a law firm’s private property sends a chilling message that even those with valid claims to adjusting their status and continuing their lives in this country are at risk.”

Andrade-Sanchez, who has previously been deported, has been charged with illegal reentry into the United States.

The record of Bradley Epley illustrates how Immigration and Customs Enforcement, aided by the Metro Nashville Police Department and Davidson County Sheriff Daron Hall, has terrorized the Middle Tennessee community for over a decade, traumatizing individuals and families. Increased scrutiny of Immigration and Customs Enforcement under the Trump administration has caused some Americans to boycott companies like Amazon that provide ICE with facial recognition technology, to call for the immediate abolition of the agency, and to demand that 2020 Democratic Presidential Candidates make the abolition of ICE a part of their 2020 platform.

A week after the shooting of Jose Fernando Andrade-Sanchez, theNashville Scene published a two-piece cover package on the deportation pipeline. As the MIX’s Brenda Perez pointed out on Facebook, “I’m glad the Nashville Scene is covering this, I will be more enthused when they center and interview undocumented people on issues that affect us. We have been here and our daily lives are the front lines.”

Bradley Epley is still employed by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. He lives in Hendersonville, Tennessee.

Notes:

[*1] http://www.lawreport.org/pdf/ICETennessee.pdf

[*2] https://www.aclu.org/blog/we-dont-need-warrant-were-ice

VIDEO: Green’s Grandstanding “Gimmick”

Watch Rep. Mark Green use the memory of fallen soldiers to try to delay Rep. Underwood’s bill which would provide Electronic Medical Records at the border – as requested by border officials – to keep immigrant kids from dying in our care, which is happening for the first time in a decade.

A heated Leader Steny Hoyer points out Green’s MTR “does nothing for veterans”, and would simply be a delay tactic.

 

NEW VIDEO: “FOUR YEARS OF Z!” Nashville Elects First Muslim Zulfat Suara, Makes History

Watch Zulfat Suara react to her history-making win, saying she’s proud of her diverse support-base which she takes as a mandate for the council to help create a “NASHVILLE FOR ALL”.

VIDEO: “HATE WILL NEVER WIN” – TIRRC Votes Day of Action On Immigration

Watch a group of immigrants in Nashville turn out to vote for immigrants running for office in Nashville.

Election Day is September 12th!

Pulitzer Prize Winner Maraniss Talks Trump and What Makes an American with the Holler

David Maraniss, Pulitzer Prize winner and best-selling writer

The New York Times best-selling author and Pulitzer Prize winner David Maraniss says the Trump era holds many similarities with Senator Joe McCarthy’s 1950s Red-baiting period.

Maraniss, recently in Nashville on tour for his latest book, A Good American Family, discussed the comparison over coffee with The Tennessee Holler.

“There are obvious parallels (between Trump and McCarthy,)” said Maraniss, noting he started the book prior to Donald Trump’s 2016 election as president. “There’s the same use of fear as a political weapon and the demonization of outsiders as a tool.”

A Good American Family is a biography of sorts, with the focal point being the work of House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) in Detroit in 1952. One of the men called to testify on charges of being a Communist: Elliott Maraniss, David’s father.

Maraniss, only two years old at the time of the hearings, had no memory of the hearings but knew the experience shadowed the family’s history. The day Elliott Maraniss was issued a subpoena, he was fired from his job at the now-defunct Detroit Times. Thus began a  five-year odyssey for the family, as Elliott moved about the Midwest, losing one job after another as part of a blacklist, before settling at the Capital Times in Madison, Wisc.

For Maraniss, the conundrum at the heart of the book is what it means to be American. How was his father, despite commanding an all-black company for the U.S. Army in World War II, considered ‘Un-American’? Or his uncle, Robert Adair Cummins, who fought against fascists in the Spanish Revolution, and also a HUAC target?

Both were active in the Michigan Communist Party of the 1930s and ’40s, but America was founded on the basis of free speech, a point Elliot made in the three-page statement he prepared for his HUAC testimony, a statement he wasn’t allowed to give and that Maraniss only found in the National Archives in 2015.

While McCarthy exploited Cold War-era fears about the USSR and the rise of Communism, Trump uses an older tactic to manipulate fear for his own gain.

“Race is at the center of American politics and always has been,” he says. “It’s always been easily manipulated and Trump very easily exploits that.”

“The concept of America and who is American . . . Who decides that? Native Americans weren’t American enough, blacks weren’t American enough,” said Maraniss.

(Meanwhile, Congressman George Stephens Wood, the chairman of HUAC — someone who, presumably, WAS American enough — was a member of the Ku Klux Klan in his home state of Georgia and had been present at the lynching of Jewish businessman Leo Frank in 1915.)

As president, Trump is far worse than McCarthy, says Maraniss.

“There’s a huge difference between then and now: Trump has a lot more platforms and as president, a greater ability to disrupt the government.”

A Good American Family is Maraniss’ 12th book. He won the Pulitzer Prize in 1993 for his coverage of President Bill Clinton and again in 2007 as part of the Washington Post team that covered the mass shooting at Virginia Tech. He has also been a Pulitzer Prize finalist another three times, a writer and editor with the Post for more than 40 years, and a visiting distinguished professor at Vanderbilt University.

Support local bookstores by purchasing A Good American Family at Parnassus Books in Green Hills or Landmark Booksellers in Franklin.

SORRY, FORT CAMPBELL KIDS: Rep. Green Supports Taking Wall $$ From Fort Middle School

We’ve all heard by now that President Trump has declared a “National Emergency” at the border as an end-run around congress to get money for his Wall.

As we mentioned this weekend, Senator Lamar Alexander spoke out against the move calling it “Unconstitutional”, while the rest of the Republican Tennessee delegation has been supportive despite fancying themselves *strict constitutionalists* in favor of *limited government*.

That group includes Rep. Mark Green of TN-7, an army veteran who lives just outside of Clarksville in Ashland City.

What we’re now learning is that included in the list of 400+ projects the president would be steering funds away from to build the wall is “the operation of a middle school at Fort Campbell”, which would likely be unwelcome news to our brave men and women up in Clarksville, where half the base is located.

The Clarksville Leaf-Chronicle has already made note of this, asking Green for his position on it just yesterday. Green had this to say:

“I support it because I believe it’s a crisis. My biggest concern is the narcotics. I think it’s the right thing to do. I think it’s certainly within his legal rights. I think very clearly people want the legislative branch doing legislative stuff, and the executive branch doing executive branch stuff. But the legislative branch has given authority to the executive branch in those certain circumstances where emergencies require action that Congress can’t be quick enough to respond to.”

Reading betweens the line of this “stuff”, Green has tried to make the case that this emergency declaration by Trump is not unprecedented since there have been 58 emergency declarations by presidents in the past – but not one of those has involved a president going around congress to get money for a campaign promise.

As for why the “emergency” is suddenly an emergency now when it didn’t seem to be for the first 2 years of the Trump presidency, there doesn’t seem to be a clear answer.

Green added:

“This is all within the power that’s been granted to the president.”

That will be for the courts to decide. Lawsuits have been filed, and they will likely cite the president saying “I didn’t have to do this” in the very press conference where he made the announcement as evidence for why this emergency is not actually an emergency at all.

More from Green:

“He made a promise to the American people. I think he’s just doing what he thinks he was elected to do.”

Green on the other hand was elected to look out for the interests of Clarksville, a military-heavy district, and it will be up to the residents and the soldiers there to decide how they feel about his decision to prioritize a wall on the Southern border over a school in their own backyard.

Incredibly, when asked about this, Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina actually said the kids will be better off not getting the money:

“I would say it’s better for the middle school kids in Kentucky to have a secure border. We’ll get them the school they need. Right now we’ve got a national emergency on our hands.”

It seems Rep. Mark Green agrees. We wonder if the parents up in the Clarksville area do too.

It’s funny how the people who are the loudest about their undying support for The Constitution seem to forget what it says when it gets in the way of the things they want.

Holler at Rep. Green HERE if you’re in Clarksville and have any thoughts.

In the meantime, enjoy a fun cartoon from Modman, showing that there really is nothing this president does that Mark Green won’t support:

 

OPINION: ROWE TO REP. ROE – “You’ve let your country down.”

This column is the opinion of Chris Rowe, 2020 candidate for Congress in Tennessee’s 1st District. Follow Chris on Twitter here

Friday, we saw our president appear on national television and declare a state of emergency for an artificial border crisis. At the same time, he admitted that not only was it unnecessary, but that he knew it was an abuse of his power.

He asked the supreme court to support his decision anyway.

Many members of congress, regardless of their party affiliation – including our own Republican Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander – saw this for the blatant “unconstitutional” act it was and decided not to back him.

Rep. Phil Roe on the other hand, in a move that added to a string of questionable decisions recently, has come out in support of the president’s illegal power play.

This is not a decision that should be taken lightly by Tennessee’s voters. We need to hold him accountable for his actions, particularly as a member of the party that purports itself to be in favor of the “Rule of Law.”

Therefore, Congressman Roe, I have an important issue to address: If law is to rule, then the onus falls to you to take the president to task for this action, and publicly rebuke it. We cannot simultaneously advocate for “law and order” while condoning the highest office in the land making a mockery of the same.

You’ve already supported multiple unconscionable actions by our president, including holding hundreds of thousands of hard-working Americans hostage for an unnecessary wall. But declaring an unconstitutional “state of emergency” that will divert funds from actual emergencies and cost American lives should be a firm red line for anyone.

Many members of your party have already seen this for what it is, so I ask you now: can you somehow not see for yourself how damaging this is to our union? Or are you simply too afraid to stand up and fight for what’s right just because it may cost you a handful of votes?

Whichever it is, you’ve let your constituency down, you’ve let your country down, and it’s time to step up or move aside and let someone else show you how it’s done.

It’s this type of abdication of your responsibility to protect and uphold the Constitution which has directly led to my challenge for your seat, and I intend to be certain that voters remember your failure to serve them come election time.

Chris Rowe is a Democratic Candidate for Congress in Tennessee’s 1st District. Chris is a 6 year veteran of the Air Force, and a current graduate student at East Tennessee State University. 

Chris has decided to take money only from real people and small businesses, not from large corporations or super PACs, to ensure he remains free of any obligation to “big” anyone.

Holler at Rep. Roe HERE, and donate to Chris HERE.

Reps Green/Roe/Rose/Fleischmann Support “NATIONAL EMERGENCY”, Lamar Calls It “UNCONSTITUTIONAL”

In a rambling press conference yesterday President Trump declared that he would be signing the bipartisan border security compromise, but that he would also be declaring a “National Emergency” to be able to steer funds away from other departments towards the Wall he wants so badly.

The Wall Mexico was supposed to pay for.

In his speech he openly admitted he “doesn’t need to do it”, which begs the question of what he thinks an “emergency” is, exactly.

Lawsuits have already started over this executive overreach, and it seems likely they will all site that sentence as exhibit A that the president doesn’t even believe his own tale on this topic.

The reactions from the Tennessee delegation were mostly to be expected. Rep. Mark Green was quick to declare his support.

Green cited the National Emergencies declared by previous presidents as evidence that this was not actually the departure from constitutional norms critics were making it out to be. What Green either didn’t realize, or failed to mention, was that none of the previous emergencies involved a president trying to make an end run around congress to raid the treasury to deliver on a campaign promise.

Green isn’t the only Tennessee Republican who has touted his undying “support for the constitution” and “limited government”, who seems to have conveniently abandoned those ideals in this moment. Reps Phil Roe and Chuck Fleischmann also rushed to support the move, as did Rep. John Rose.

Senator Lamar Alexander was the only Tennessee Republican who seemed to have a problem with it, calling it “Unnecessary”, “Unwise”, and “Unconstitutional.”

It seems safe to assume Lamar realizes a Democratic President would surely turn around and use the power for actual emergencies like gun violence, health care, and climate change, and Senator Alexander clearly doesn’t want that to happen.

Democratic Rep. Cohen was on the other side of the fence, questioning the hypocrisy of Mitch McConnell and the Republicans who spent all 8 Obama years bemoaning executive overreach.


Checks and balances exist for a reason. The hypocrisy on display here is truly remarkable. If you agree this declaration is nothing short of an abuse of power, holler at your reps.

SPIN MARSHA SPIN: “Border Deal A Win For Trump, Dreamers Should Blame Dems”

Republicans and Democrats in congress struck a border security deal this week which gave President Trump far less than he wanted for his wall.

The deal pledges $1.375 billion for border enhancements like steel-slatted barriers and other “existing technologies”, and $1.7 billion for additional security measures and humanitarian aid. The proposed new “barriers” would account for just 55 miles, which is a far cry from the more than 200 miles the White House sought.

Of the deal, Trump said:

“I can’t say I’m thrilled.”

From the Democrats perspective, they averted a shutdown, agreed to additional border funding which they all support anyway, and didn’t have to go along with an end to end wall which they collectively oppose, and which even some Republicans have said would be a waste of money.

Needless to say, the far right, led by Awful Ann Coulter, isn’t happy about the deal, and has been vocal about calling Trump out for backing down on the shutdown in the first place.


Meanwhile here in Tennessee, ever the good soldier, Marsha Blackburn is putting on a brave face and telling Fox News this is actually a victory for Republicans and encouraging them to thank President in particular, who she rarely has a harsh word for.

In the interview with Fox News Marsha even goes so far as to blame Democrats for the fact that the fate of the Dreamers is still in limbo, even though Trump is the one who threw their status into jeopardy, and the Republicans are obviously the ones still holding them hostage.

Here’s what Marsha told Fox New yesterday, when asked about the deal:

“I’ve got to tell ya, I think it is a loss for the Democrats. Because the president and Republicans had offered to solve the issue around the Dreamers. And I hope that everyone listening to you who has a Dreamer in their family or a Dreamer that is close to them realizes through their obstinance of not coming to the table, Nancy Pelosi not making good on her word to negotiate, that is not a part of what is taking place at this point in time.”

So does that mean we can count Marsha as a vote for a clean Dream Act?

Democrats would pass a clean Dream Act tomorrow. Republicans would not. Marsha blaming Democrats for the situation the Dreamers are in is the hostage-taker blaming the negotiator for not meeting all of their ransom demands.

The onslaught of insults to the intelligence of her viewing audience is endless. Holler at Marsha HERE to let her know you see right through her.

Proud MAGA Hat-Wearing Crybaby Gets Facts Wrong

In the Tennesseean today, a guy named Ryan Moore who doesn’t even live in Tennessee – but who claims to work at a Tennessee-based nonprofit – wrote a woe-is-me op-ed about how wearing his red hat gets him all kinds of “death threats and racist comments” from people he interacts with on social media.

While we don’t condone any kind of threats, we do take MAJOR issue with one claim he makes:

Ryan Says:

MAGA Hats Are the Symbol of Putting America First… White men are the most hated and discriminated against group of people in the USA now. If you don’t believe that, you simply aren’t paying attention or looking at it objectively.

Say what now? Since Ryan challenged us to “look at it objectively”, we did. And guess what? He’s completely wrong.

According to the most recent FBI data:

Racial/ethnicity/ancestry bias

Among single-bias hate crime incidents in 2017, there were 5,060 victims of race/ethnicity/ancestry motivated hate crime.

  • 48.6 percent were victims of crimes motivated by their offenders’ anti-Black or African American bias.
  • 17.1 percent were victims of anti-White bias.

Big WHIFF there, Ryan. What about religion?

Religious bias

Of the 1,749 victims of anti-religious hate crimes:

  • 58.1 percent were victims of crimes motivated by their offenders’ anti-Jewish bias.
  • 18.6 percent were victims of anti-Islamic (Muslim) bias.
  • 4.3 percent were victims of anti-Catholic bias.
  • 3.3 percent were victims of bias against groups of individuals of varying religions (anti-multiple religions, group).
  • 2.3 percent were victims of anti-Protestant bias.
  • 1.8 percent were victims of anti-Other Christian bias.

In other words: NOPE. “Objective” means “not influenced by personal feelings or opinions in considering and representing facts”.

Sorry Ryan. You may get your feelings hurt when you turn on your phone, but other races and religions have it far worse.