Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A Final Spit in the Face from Bush

It's only fitting that in the closing moments of the most lawless administration in our nation's history, President Bush chose as his final act, to grant clemency to two rogue Border Patrol agents who shot an unarmed man in the back, then attempted to cover up their crime. From its inception, this administration has always been based on the assumption that those in positions of authority are beyond the constraints law and that cover-ups, secrecy, and lies are acceptable means to an end.

In a move aimed to appease the anti-immigrant base of his party, Bush commuted the sentences of Border Patrol agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean, who were convicted of shooting suspected marijuana smuggler, Osvaldo Aldrete Davila, in the back as he fled back across the Mexican border. The agents then attempted to cover-up their actions by filing false reports and hiding evidence.

Their case became a proxy for the greater debate over immigration and border security and a cause celebre for every far-right blowhard from Rush Limbaugh to Lou Dobbs who used it to rally the anti-immigrant right.

Appeals for leniency were generally based on the premise that "these brave men were only doing their job to protect our borders." And that their punishment far outweighed their crimes. Dobbs often called the case "an outright travesty of American justice."

But what was lacking in much of the hyperbolic rhetoric and grandstanding surrounding this case was any regard for the truth.

In their zeal to paint Ramos and Compean as heroes, and use them as pawns in the bigger immigration battle, many of their supporters neglected to explain exactly what the two agents did to eventually be convicted of a crime.

There is a reason a jury found these two men guilty, and it has nothing to do with the politics of immigration reform or the fight against "our broken borders." It has to do with two rogue cops who overstepped the boundaries, then tried to cover up their crime.

It's a story no different than that of Rodney King, Amadou Diallo, or more recently Sean Bell where law enforcement officers have used undue and unnecessary force resulting in injury or death. The fact that these particular officers patrolled the border rather than the Bronx or Compton doesn't make their actions any less odious, and it certainly doesn't make them heroes.

When the story first broke, it was presented to the American public as the story of two innocent men persecuted by a government run amuck. The agents claimed that while pursuing a suspected drug smuggler a "scuffle" ensued and the "suspect ... made a motion as if to fire a gun". The agents then fired in self defense in the line of duty. The story as presented by Ramos and Compean and their supporters then became the definitive narrative accepted as fact by the vast majority of the American people

But a statement about the case from the US Attorney for the Western District of Texas, Johnny Sutton, presented a VERY different picture.

According to evidence presented by the Justice Department, Ramos and Compean were far from the innocent victims of an out of control government set on prosecuting innocent law enforcement agents for simply doing their job.

In response to misstatements and misinformation being reported in the media regarding the prosecution of Ignacio Ramos and Jose Alonso Compean, relating to a shooting that occurred while they were on duty as U.S. Border Patrol agents on February 17, 2005, the United States Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Texas releases this advisory summarizing the evidence presented at defendants’ trial.

As will be demonstrated by the summary below, the defendants were prosecuted because they had fired their weapons at a man who had attempted to surrender by holding his open hands in the air, at which time Agent Compean attempted to hit the man with the butt of Compean’s shotgun, causing the man to run in fear of what the agents would do to him next. Although both agents saw that the man was not armed, the agents fired at least 15 rounds at him while he was running away from them, hitting him once.

On February 17, 2005, Border Patrol Agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Alonso Compean were on duty along the U.S./Mexico border, working out of the Fabens Border Patrol Station. At approximately one o’clock in the afternoon, Agent Compean observed a van near the border about two and a half miles west of Fabens. According to the testimony, the driver of the van, Osvaldo Aldrete-Davila, failed to yield to Agent Ramos’ attempt to stop him, jumped out of his vehicle and attempted to run back to Mexico. After Ramos told Aldrete-Davila to stop, Ramos drew his service revolver and pointed it at Aldrete-Davila. Aldrete-Davila jumped into a steep ditch filled with dirty water and when he tried to climb the steep incline out of the ditch, he was confronted by defendant Compean, waiting for him with a shotgun pointed directly at him.

During his testimony, Compean acknowledged that at that time Aldrete-Davila held his hands up, as if to surrender, with his palms open, and no weapon was in either hand, or evident on his person. Another agent, who had arrived by this time and observed the scene, heard someone yell “hit him.” Aldrete-Davila, who was at one time a legal resident alien of the United States and speaks some English, also heard someone yell “hit him, hit him,” and specifically heard Compean yell: “Parate, parate, Mexicano de mierda.” (“Stop, stop you Mexican shit.”) According to testimony, Compean swung his shotgun around in an attempt to hit Aldrete-Davila with the butt of his weapon, but lost his footing and fell face down into the dirt and brush. Aldrete-Davila began to run to the river and did not look back. Agent Ramos also testified that when he saw Aldrete-Davila in the ditch, he had an opportunity to look at Aldrete-Davila’s hands, which he is trained to do for self defense and defense of another, and did not see any weapons in either of Aldrete-Davila’s hands. When Aldrete-Davila almost reached the river, but while he was still out in the open vega area, he heard numerous gun shots. Compean fired at Aldrete-Davila at least fourteen times and Ramos fired at Aldrete-Davila once.

At the time of the shooting, neither agent Compean nor agent Ramos knew that the van driven by Aldrete-Davila contained 743 pounds of marijuana. The evidence was un-controverted that, at the time the victim was shot, neither agent knew whether the driver was illegally in the United States or whether a crime had been committed. The only information they had was that the driver had failed to pull over to be identified.

DOJ, Western District Texas

Then the crime was followed by attempts by the agents to cover it up.

At the scene, Ramos told a supervisor that as the suspect fled from the vehicle, agent Compean was on the levee attempting to apprehend him. Defendant Ramos said that as the suspect tried to flee Compean either tried to grab the suspect, or did a “side to side” movement, but fell to the ground and got dirt in his eyes. Ramos did not mention the shooting, and said nothing about the suspect having a weapon. At the scene, when asked why he was so excited, Ramos told another agent that it was just the adrenalin that had him all pumped up.

An agent who encountered defendant Compean sometime later, away from the scene of the incident, testified that Compean told him, “That little bitch took me to the ground and threw dirt in my face.” Compean did not indicate that he felt threatened, that his life was in danger, or that the driver had a weapon at any time. Compean did show the agent nine shell casings that he had collected at the scene and indicated he was “probably missing five more casings.” Compean told the agent he had “fired some rounds...did a magazine exchange and fired some more rounds,” and asked the agent to look for the additional casings. The agent proceeded to the scene of the shooting, located the additional five casings, threw them into the drainage ditch and called defendant Compean, using his cellular telephone, to tell him he had found five rounds and threw them away.The removal of the shell casings from the scene made it impossible to do a complete investigation of the shooting.

Testimony elicited at trial clearly established that, until an investigation initiated at the Washington, D.C. headquarters of the Department of Homeland Security, Office of the Inspector General began on March 4, 2005, no written report had been filed, no oral report had been made, and no person in any official capacity was cognizant of the fact that a shooting had occurred or a firearm had been discharged by any Border Patrol Agent in the direction of an individual fleeing into Mexico after having failed to stop for immigration status identification on February 17, 2005. The only report of any law enforcement activity on file for the Fabens Border Patrol Station on that date was an Immigration and Naturalization form I-44, Report of Apprehension or Seizure, authored by both defendants and signed by Jose Alonso Compean.

DOJ, Western District Texas

Obviously the US Attorney painted a very different picture of the "hero" Border Patrol agents. It's a picture of bad cops abusing their power.

Had they not found Aldrete-Davila's marijuana after the fact, this would have been a clear-cut case of excessive force that even Lou Dobbs could not spin otherwise. Yet the right-wing has used the fact that Aldrete-Davila later turned out to be a criminal as a way to try to justify the agents action.

But it must be remembered that at the time, Alderte-Davis's only crime as far as the agents were concerned was that he tried to run away back over the border.

The facts clearly showed that neither agent had any reason to believe that Aldrete-Davila was any more than your garden variety economic migrant crossing the border to find work.

It is that fact that the jury chose to take into consideration when they convicted the two agents.

Based on all of the evidence admitted at the two week trial, including the lengthy testimony of both of the defendants, the jury of twelve citizens heard all of the testimony, judged the demeanor and credibility of the witnesses and unanimously found both defendants guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of eleven of the twelve counts alleged in the indictment, including assault with a dangerous weapon, assault with serious bodily injury, discharge of a firearm during the commission of a crime of violence and willfully violating Aldrete-Davila’s Constitutional, Fourth Amendment right to be free from illegal seizure, as well as obstructing justice by intentionally defacing the crime scene, lying about the incident, and failing to report the truth.

DOJ, Western District Texas

At the end of the day, this case and the publicity it garnered was never really a referendum on border security or immigration; it was just another case of the right-wing allowing their political goals to trump the law and respect for Constitutional rights.

Now with his clemency for Ramos and Compean, Bush has once again demonstrated his disregard for the law.

Just as he's been willing to defend the treatment of those in Guantanamo or illegal wire-taps for political reasons, or allow the incarceration of American citizens in detention centers because of the immigration status of their parents, his choosing as his final act to commute the sentences of these two Border Patrol demonstrates that even as he is shutting the lights and closing the door he remains just as contemptuous of the true rule of law as he's ever been.

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Vicente Duque said...

Duke :

This is an excellent post and very valuable information. Of course the deaths of Latinos murdered by Racial Hatred, or of innocent people that are attacked by Gangs of Thugs filled with Racial Hatred are always surrounded by lies. The complicit complacency of the authorities and police.

I am extracting two paragraphs from you and posting a link to your page here :


The Terrorist Cowards that killed Luis Ramirez in Shenandoah Pennsylvania in July 2008 have been presented as heroes and Luis as a criminal.

The sadistic cowardice of a Gang of many attacking a single defenseless man has not been acknowledged, or the kicking of an unconscious man on the floor to kill him.

And his American Wife has been harassed by the most Coward Thugs in Shenandoah who organize rallies and bastardy.

Here you read how Judge Andrew Napolitano condemns a murder totally forgiven by a prosecutor.


So you can kill Black People or Immigrants in Texas. Shoot them on the back as in this case. And outside your home with no self defense and no threat from the victims. And after police has warned many times the killer not to shoot, the whole talk and sound being recorded.


Vicente Duque

Duke1676 said...

Thanks Vicente

The case of Ramos an Compean in my opinion is the visible tip of a very large iceberg.

Able to mask their true feelings behind claims of "supporting law enforcement" or battling "border crime" their supporters attempt to put a respectable face on the same hate that surfaces in Shenandoah and Farmingville

Anonymous said...

The border agents did not shoot a man in the back, they shot a drug smuggler in the ass. The smuggler was so well rewarded by the courts that he was able to continue his smuggling operation until he was arrested again and this time charged with the crime. Also, the idea of racial hatred can not be applied here since the border agents are both of Hispanic decent. The agents crime was the cover-up which does not equate to the heavy sentence they were given. Bush did the best thing by commuting their sentence and not giving a pardon. The agents still have criminal charges on their records and will never be allowed to work in law enforcement again.

Vicente Duque said...

Dear Duke and Friends of Migra Matters :

Thanks for excellent informations, and your presence in the Internet.

I think that there is Hope of having a Humane Administration and that the horrible Murders and Tortures that we have seen will be greatly diminished. As the permission to kill shooting people in their backs as in Pasadena, Texas, or the Complicit Complacency or the Authorities with Racial Hatred.

Obama and his day 2 as president :

Obama just signed to close Guantanamo

I collect videos on the closing and the promises to close this horrible prison of torture. Other videos on this subject, and other Torture Prisons of Iraq.


Vicente Duque

Duke1676 said...

Anonymous said:

The smuggler was so well rewarded by the courts that he was able to continue his smuggling operation until he was arrested again and this time charged with the crime.

The REAL fact is, that if Ramos and Compean had done their jobs properly they would have caught Aldrete Davila the first time.

Instead they chose to over-react, shoot at him 15 times, then leave him in wounded in the desert. ... spending their time instead covering up their crime.

They could have easily taken Aldrete Davila into custody as he lay wounded, but because they knew they had broken the law , THEY let him escape.

They are an embarrassment to all law enforcement personal who work each and every day to uphold the law ... not break it.

Vicente Duque said...

To Duke and Friends :

Thanks for your Information and your excellent website.

Colombian immigrant Wilter Sanchez, 33, was brutally attacked on Wednesday afternoon by a gang of five hate-filled thugs in the town of North Plainfield, New Jersey. A hard working man, artisan of stone carving.

The man is horrible disfigured as you can see in the photos of the few sites who are giving these News, including an Important Spanish Speaking Newspaper and an Important TV Network in Spanish.

Facial Reconstruction because the man is totally disfigures with many skull gones broken and face bones also injured. May lose sight.

I find it very strange that the Big Newspapers are not giving information and only Bloggers talk about this Brutal Attack.

Of course "La Prensa" and Telemundo are important but this silence is weird.

I keep a record of Racial Attacks, and Murders too. This is beginning to look as a Big Roster of Names : Latinos, Blacks, Asians, and also Gays, Lesbians, etc ...

I keep saying that the Big Apple became a Clockwork Orange. And that Impunity begets murder.

Sometimes I think that I am mad and that all this Brutality can not be real.

I will give any new fresh information on this horrible attack and the Facial Reconstruction of this poor man :


Vicente Duque

green card visa said...

I know you spoke a little about Guantanamo. Has anyone heard about the Guantanamo inmates who are now going to live in Amherst Massachusetts? I heard this on the radio today but do not know too much about the subject.