Torture : American “Nearly Beaten to Death”: And Other Recent Torture Stories

BORDERLAND BEAT — MEXICO CITY — Ronald James Wooden flexes the large blacksmith’s hands with which he once forged everything from large chandeliers to intricate jewelry. He’s says he is still regaining feeling in them three years after a four-hour beating with fists and rifle butts by municipal police in southern Mexico.

The officers tightened his handcuffs and then stood on them to inflict maximum damage to his hands, said Wooden, 46, who had set up a workshop in the hills outside the silver-mining city of Taxco along with his Mexican-born wife. Police detained him for allegedly disturbing the peace, but Wooden says the beating arose from a dispute with his neighbor, a former cop who claimed to belong to a local drug cartel.

“They beat me for close to four hours. Some would get tired and then others would come in. They were going to kill me and disappear me,” said Wooden, who said he suffered nerve damage, broken ribs and injuries to his genitals.

He said what saved him was “divine intervention and the love that my family has for me.” His wife, Carmen, waited outside the police station for hours until she was allowed to pay Wooden’s 200-peso ($12 fine) and took him to a hospital after he was released.

Human rights groups say police torture remains all too common in Mexico, but Wooden’s case from 2013 is unusual in two respects: He’s an American citizen and he’s won a court order for a criminal investigation into the beating.

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