Saturday, April 28, 2007

Controversial video raises questions about border shooting

A leaked internal surveillance video of the deadly shooting of Ramiro Gamez Acosta by a Border Patrol Agent in Calexico on March 26 has been the cause of both controversy and condemnation.

The video, originally meant as an internal report to Border Patrol headquarters in Washington, shows there are some contradictions between the original accounts of the incident as reported by spokesmen of the Border patrol's El Centro sector office and the tape.

Originally, when the incident first occurred, officials claimed it took place as Acosta was trying to raft across the All-American Canal to return to Mexico and attempted to throw a rock at agents. According to later accounts Acosta was being pursued by agents and when he approached the border fence he then attempted to throw a rock at an agent and was shot at close range.

But the video shows something different, and Mexican officials have now asked for a complete inquiry.

When the story first came out last month a Border Patrol spokesman claimed, "The victim was in a raft that turned back toward Mexico" and "the agent fired after seeing the man's arm cocked back with a rock in his hand."

The agent shot the man Monday after he escaped from a scuffle with another agent as he tried to return to Mexico, said Border Patrol spokesman David Kim.


Border Patrol agents saw seven people climb a border fence, run to the All-American Canal and attempt to cross the waterway in rafts, Kim said. The victim was in a raft that turned back toward Mexico.

Kim said the agent fired after seeing the man's arm cocked back with a rock in his hand.

Other people continued to throw rocks at the agents, Kim said. A Molotov cocktail that had failed to explode was later found nearby.

San Diego Tribunes, 3-27-07

By the next day the story had changed slightly. Acosta was now, according to reports, running back towards the border with agents in pursuit when he "picked up a large rock and turned towards agents."

The incident occurred during a violent encounter between agents and illegal border-crossers Monday evening, about a mile west of the Calexico border crossing, said Agent Enrique Lozano, a spokesman for the Border Patrol's El Centro sector office.


It all began shortly before 6 p.m. Monday, when agents began searching a truck lot just north of the All-American Canal for a group of seven suspected illegal immigrants.

Six were caught, but the seventh jumped into the canal, swam across and ran south back toward the border with agents in pursuit, Lozano said.

As the man ran toward the border fence, about five or six people on the Mexican side of the fence in Mexicali scaled the fence, jumped onto the American side and started throwing rocks at the pursuing agents, Lozano said. They also threw rocks at the suspected illegal immigrant running toward them, he said.

“They were just flinging rocks all over the place,” the agent said.

They also lit and threw a Molotov cocktail at the agents, said Lozano. The homemade bomb landed near the agents, but failed to explode, he said.

With agents closing in, the man being pursued picked up a large rock and turned toward the agents, with his arm cocked back to throw the rock, Lozano said.

“He was face-to-face with the agents, just feet away,” he said. At that point, one of the agents fired one shot from an M-4, a shorter version of the M-16 rifle. The man was hit and mortally wounded. He was taken to El Centro Regional Medical Center, where he died about 20 minutes later, Lozano said

San Diego Tribune, 3-28-07

A month later, Acosta "was confronted near the border fence by an agent," according to official statements.

The incident occurred during a violent encounter between agents and illegal border-crossers, about a mile west of the Calexico border crossing.

Acosta, one of a group of people trying to cross the border who had been spotted by the Border Patrol, was trying to run back across the border into Mexico when he was confronted near the border fence by an agent.

The agent told investigators that Acosta was about to throw a rock at him from only a few feet away.
San Diego Tribune, 4-20-07

But the official video leaked from the Border Patrol shows Acosta in none of the three areas he was reported as being in. He is not in a raft, or being pursued by agents as he runs towards the fence, nor near the border fence.

He is in fact seen entering from the far right of the screen from behind the vehicles and agents on the road running parallel to the fence where the people appear to be throwing rocks. He scuffles with one agent by the first vehicle on the far right, breaks free, than as he comes in front of the second vehicle is shot.

This is quite obvious in the long version of the video that was scrubbed from youtube a few days ago, but is still available from

Note sec 2 thru sec 10 - on the far right of the screen. Acosta can clearly been seen on the passenger side of the far right vehicle as the video opens.

(it's easier to see what's going on if you view the clip frame by frame by alternately clicking the play/pause button) WATCH FUll VIDEO

The nothingtoxic clip clearly show Acosta was not being chased and was no where near the fence or canal when shot.

As to the claims that he was about to throw a "softball sized rock" at the agent in the moments before he was shot - note sec 26 thru sec 24 in the shorter YouTube video.

In this enhanced shorter video Acosta is clearly facing right with the agent to his left. He is not only looking directly at the parked vehicle on the right but his arm is cock to throw towards the right.

In these frames it's quite clear that Acosta was about to throw a rock at the vehicle and not the agent - who he is not even facing.

(again use play/pause to view a frame by frame of this clip)

YouTube Video Link

Surely these videos leave many questions unanswered.

Why is Acosta entering from the right? Was he already being detained by the agents and then broke free? Where is the second man who appears to be an agent by the vehicle on the right after Acosta comes in front of the vehicle on the left? We see an agent enter the vehicle on the left through the passenger door just as Acosta is breaking away from the vehicle on the right, yet the shooter appears to come out of the drivers side…is this the same Agent?

And most importantly - It apparently appears that Acosta is not facing the agent when he is shot, so why did the agent believe he was in a life threatening situation requiring deadly force?

Some have voiced concern that the Mexican government has demanded an investigation into this matter, but clearly with the contradictions between the official story and what appears on the video, perhaps our own officials should be launching an investigation into the shooting as well.

Instead an internal investigation is underway to determine who leaked the Border Patrol video onto the Web…. Because that's what's really important in this case after all….jeez.

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1 comment:

josueencuentro said...

To me, on its face, it looks like a video of a Border Patrolman committing murder.