An Air Force captain discovered he was banned from Naval Post Graduate School in Monterey, California, due to pending charges against him from a previous encounter with a cop who had tried to arrest him for entering his own home.
The charges — resisting arrest and obstructing an officer — have infuriated Captain Nicolas Aquino, a first-generation immigrant whose parents came to the United States from Paraguay as political exiles.
Last December, an officer paid a visit to Aquino’s Monterey residence. Apparently, a neighbor had seen a man entering Aquino’s home, and reported a possible burglary to the authorities.
The “burglar” was Aquino himself. No one else was in the house.
The officer told Aquino that he needed to see identification, according to KSBW.
“At that moment I’m like, ‘Excuse me sir, but who are you? And why are you here?’” said Aquino in a statement.
Aquino, who is well aware of his Constitutional rights, asked the officer if he was being detained. The officer said that he was.
“And so I said, ‘OK, then my name is Nicolas Aquino. I live right here. I’m in the military,’” said Aquino.
Aquino showed the officer — a deputy with the Monterey County Sheriff’s Department — his military ID, but did not hand over the card. The officer interpreted this move as a hostile act, and proceeded to tackle Aquino, slam his head into the ground and put him in a choke hold.
The police report described the officer’s actions more favorably.
“The male then pulled his hand away from me, thereby moving the card away from my hand,” said the report. “I decided at that point I would detain him physically and place him into handcuffs.”
The report does mention, however, that the officer considered drawing his weapon on Aquino, even as he sat on top of him.
“I yelled at the male to put his hands out to his sides,” said the report. “The male never complied. He was beginning to draw them in closer to the center of his body. Afraid that the male was going to reach for a weapon, I contemplated disengaging from him, drawing my own firearm and taking aim.”
Aquino disagreed. He said that he readily complied. At no point did he have a weapon.
Eventually, Aquino proved to the officer that it was indeed his home. No arrest was made at the time.
But weeks later, authorities issued an arrest warrant and charged Aquino with resisting arrest and obstruction. He can’t continue classes until the matter is adjudicated, and his military career is also on hold.
The district attorney has refused to drop the charges.
Aquino was featured in a promotional video for the Air Force. He claimed that his parents’ persecution in Paraguay has instilled in him a profound appreciation for U.S. values. He chose to serve in the military as a way to honor American freedoms.
He could not immediately be reached for comment.