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U.S Attorney Refutes Dairy Raid Charges

Says farmers' claims that officers used excessive force are "false" and "utterly baseless."

U.S. Attorney Drew Wrigley fired back at Mike Zimmerman, of Sandhills Dairy, Towner, N.D., in an unusual press conference Wednesday.

Speaking from the federal building in Fargo, N.D., Wrigley said that Zimmerman's charges that federal officials used excessive force in executing a search warrant at the dairy and arresting 13 people suspected of being in the country illegally were "false" and "utterly baseless."

Thirty six federal, state and county officers executed a search warrant at approximately 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, using "procedures within the bounds of law and professional decency," Wrigley said. "There were no guns pointed at anyone's head."

Wrigley said he was responding to media reports and particularly Zimmerman's "aggressive" appearance on KFGO Radio's "News and Views" show with Ed Schultz.

On that program and in interviews with the Minot Daily News and the Dakota Farmer, Zimmerman said that officers kicked in doors to buildings and homes on the farm; damaged furniture; handcuffed his son, Lee, as he was getting out of the shower; forced his daughter from her home into the snow in her pajamas and with an ill child in her arms; and held a gun to one of his long-time friend's' head and demanded that he produce a birth certificate.

Wrigley specifically refuted Zimmerman's charges that Zimmerman's son, Lee, was handcuffed as he was getting out of the shower. Wrigley says that officers knocked on the door of Lee's Zimmerman house on the farm. Zimmerman, dressed only in boxer shorts, answered but wouldn't let officers in. Wrigley described him as "belligerent."

After using "no more force than necessary to gain entry," Wrigley said officers confronted Lee who continued to be belligerent. Only after officers put his hands behind his back and handcuffed him, did Lee calm down. Officers removed the cuffs and continued to interview him, Wrigley said.

Wrigley said that Mike Zimmerman, who lives in Minot, N.D., was not even at the farm when officials began executing their search warrant, but arrived later.

Under the direction Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, officers used standard procedures designed to protect themselves and others on the premises, Wrigley said.

They were successful, Wrigley said. No was injured during the raid.

The large number of officers was needed to execute the search warrant because the dairy covers approximately 40 acres and has more than a dozen buildings. All the buildings had to be searched.

The search wasn't video taped, Wrigley said.

Zimmerman's charges "unfairly tarnish the work of law enforcement," Wrigley said.

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