'Less than a person': Woman speaks out after detained by federal agents

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - A woman is speaking out after she said she was unjustly detained by a federal agent following a car crash.

Three women were held at the detention facility on Summer Avenue. Two were released Monday, but one stayed overnight.

A local pastor said what led up to their detention is an abuse of power by federal agents.

"Less than a person" is how Glenda Mendez said she felt following an encounter with U.S. Customs and Border Protection Monday.

"In that moment, they make you feel like as a human being, you are worthless," Mendez said.

Police said Mendez hit a parked vehicle on Madison Avenue near November 6th Street that belonged to U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Cell phone video was taken shortly after the incident.

Mendez said she and her two passengers stopped and notified the federal agent, who wasn't in the vehicle, about the accident.

But she said things escalated while waiting on Memphis police to file the report, and that's when she called her pastor.

"Shouts, screams at them, just using a lot of bullying tactics," Pastor Rolando Rostro of Iglesia Nueva Vida said.

Pastor Rostro said he could hear the federal agent aggressively talking to the women in the car.

Mendez said the agent then took their phones and detained them.

"They didn't have to use force in aggressively taking our ID's from our hands and our phones from our hands," Mendez said.

Pastor Rostro said though the women are "undocumented," he believes the federal agent overstepped by taking over an MPD investigation.

"These mothers are going to go to work to feed their children, come back to their children after school, well they couldn't," Pastor Rostro said.

A spokesperson for the Memphis Police Department sent a statement that reads in part:

"I do not have any information pertaining to their investigation that was handled on the scene, nor do I have specifics of why the individuals were transported from the scene. The Memphis Police Department is its own entity; we do not get involved with investigations related to U.S. Customs and Border Protection."

Mendez said she is speaking out in hopes of changing how matters like this are handled in the future.

"That is why I am sitting here with you guys, because of my children," Mendez said.

Copyright 2018 WMC Action News 5. All rights reserved.