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Elian rescuer, protester sue over raid

The lawsuits allege excessive force was used in the government's seizure of the Cuban boy.

The man photographed holding Elian Gonzalez during the armed raid in which the Cuban boy was seized is suing federal government officials, saying his constitutional rights were violated.

The federal lawsuit filed Monday by Donato Dalrymple against Attorney General Janet Reno, Deputy Attorney General Eric Holder and Immigration and Naturalization Service Commissioner Doris Meissner seeks damages in excess of $100-million.

"The complaint alleges unnecessary and excessive physical force," said Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch, a conservative group that is providing legal representation for Dalrymple, a housecleaner.

Department of Justice spokeswoman Carole Florman said her agency would review the lawsuit and respond appropriately in court.

Dalrymple _ who with his cousin rescued Elian from the water last Thanksgiving _ claims his Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable search and seizure was violated when agents on April 22 broke into the Little Havana home where Elian had been staying with relatives.

The suit also claims that Reno, Holder and Meissner violated his Fifth Amendment due process rights.

Dalrymple's lawyers also challenged the validity of the search warrant agents used to enter the Gonzalez family home, saying the document was obtained illegally. The suit alleges that officials misrepresented themselves and engaged in "judge shopping" by seeking out a "pro-government" magistrate to sign the order.

In addition, the attorneys filed another lawsuit on behalf of Michael Stafford, 37, a protester who claims he was beaten and tear-gassed during the raid. Stafford, a Hollywood, Fla., small businessman, is also seeking damages totaling more than $100-million.