A Tucson man who sued a then-Nogales cop for an alleged assault that occurred in 2016 on the Mexico side of a local port of entry accepted an out-of-court settlement in the case, according to court records.
Aaron Vasquez will receive a $50,000 payout for dropping the charges, according to a settlement document provided by City Attorney Mike Massee.
Vasquez claimed that former Nogales Police Department Officer Juan Sullivan abused his status as a law enforcement officer and physically assaulted Vasquez on Dec. 2, 2016 after the two men’s vehicles were involved in a minor accident while they waited to cross into the United States at a Nogales port of entry, according to a November 2018 complaint.
He also named the City of Nogales and Derek Arnson, the NPD chief at the time of the incident, as defendants in his complaint.
All three defendants denied the allegations in separate filings in 2019.
The settlement agreement, dated Jan. 30 and signed by attorneys representing Vasquez, Sullivan, Arnson and the city, states that the deal is contingent upon approval by the city’s insurers and the City of Nogales council. Massee said the document appeared to be a preliminary agreement, but nonetheless represented the final amount that Vasquez would receive under the deal.
On April 7, U.S. District Judge Cindy Jorgenson dismissed the case with prejudice, meaning the charges can’t be brought again.
According to Vasquez’s complaint, the incident began after the side mirrors on Vasquez and Sullivan’s cars collided while the pair waited in line to cross the border.
Then, Vasquez alleged, Sullivan got out of his car and demanded Vasquez’s driver’s license and grabbed at his car door. After getting out of his own vehicle, Vasquez stated, Sullivan slammed him into the ground and held him in a chokehold while asserting his authority as a police officer. When federal officials at the port began to investigate the incident, the complaint states, Sullivan started looking through Vasquez’s paperwork and demanded that officials provide him with information.
Sullivan was off duty at the time of the incident and is no longer an NPD officer.
Massee noted that the settlement doesn’t include any admission of guilt and said the cost of defending against the suit to court would likely have exceeded the cost of the settlement. The city will only pay $10,000 out of pocket, he said, which is the deductible amount on its insurance policy.
All parties will pay their own legal fees, according to the settlement.
The settlement document also states that “(t)he parties agree to keep the terms of settlement confidential as allowed by law.” Attorneys in the case did not return the NI’s emails or calls seeking comment.
The NI requested the document from Massee pursuant to public records law.