An autopsy on a mother of five children who was fatally shot by a Border Patrol agent was pending. The shooting occurred about 5 miles north of the Mexican border as plainclothes agents were looking to serve a felony warrant in the area to someone other than the victim, Border Patrol Deputy told the U-T San Diego, a local newspaper.
A wrongful death lawsuit was filed on the victim’s behalf, saying the agent had a long history of misconduct in a previous law enforcement job and should not have been on the street.
A 32-year-old woman, who grew up just five miles away from where she allegedly ran into a Border Patrol agent with her car, was shot through her car’s windshield at 1:00 pm, according to federal agents, local police and broadcast reports.
Initial police reports said the victim struck a Border Patrol agent twice as she pulled away in her car and the agent fired his weapon at her from the car’s hood.
The Border Patrol Deputy Chief said the agent was stuck on top of the car’s hood as the victim drove. “Fearing for his life, he discharged his weapon to get the vehicle to stop,” the deputy chief said. No other agents fired weapons.
Police said the victim was in an apartment known for drug activity prior to the fatal incident, where the agents were attempting to arrest a felon. The victim had been on probation for a 2011 drug-related conviction.
It is alleged that the victim was shot 7 times as an agent “marched forward shooting time and time again into the body of an unarmed woman.”
Documents showed that the Border Patrol agent, a 34-year-old, had been suspended four times previously for misconduct, including crashing a patrol car and violating suspects’ rights; in less than four years that he worked as a sheriff’s deputy. The agent had been given a notice that he would be fired prior to his quitting in 2003, documents said.
According to the claim, a 2002 probation case states the agent “willfully disobeyed a direct order” and “provided false and misleading information during the investigation.”
Prior to that, in 2001 the agent was called to assist police with an incident and instructed to wait for them at the scene, but instead he roused the suspect himself, participated in an altercation and cuffed him without having a warrant.
In a wrongful termination lawsuit the agent filed in 2004, he claimed that he was the victim of retaliation for pursuing cases against supervisor’s friends and of racial discrimination because he was white.
Border Patrol Deputy Chief Scott said the agent was in the area to serve a warrant. The agent was not in uniform.
The agent was carried several hundred yards on the hood of the Honda Accord the victim was driving, as he opened fire, “fearing for his life,” Scott said.
The victim’s family members told the U-T San Diego, a local newspaper, that the woman was a housewife and the mother of five children, ranging in age from 3 to 17 years old.
“Where’s the evidence my wife threatened a trained officer?” her husband asked.
“I just want justice,” he told the newspaper. “They said they didn’t know what had brought her to that neighborhood.”
A witness said that he was standing at his mailbox when he heard a man yell, “STOP!” He said he saw a man on the hood of a two-door car, aiming a gun at the windshield. He said he heard 5 shots.
Another witness, a 22-year-old male said he was walking with a friend. He told the U-T they heard about 7 shots. He said that he saw a man in a red shirt, without a badge, holding his gun. He appeared shaken. Other undercover officers joined him, pulling out their badges as they walked.
“The lady was hanging out the door, barely moving,” the witness said. The agents checked her pulse and medics who arrived shortly after began CPR on her on the ground. The witness alleges that he could see what appeared to be bullet wounds in her chest, shoulder, arm and leg.
“He did not miss,” the witness told the newspaper.
A 19-year-old female who lives in a nearby apartment building said she never saw the agent on the car. She said she happened to look out the window and saw the Honda backing up slowly and a man in a red shirt walking toward the car.
“Then I heard, ‘Pop, pop, pop,’” she told the U-T.
Another resident of the same building, told the newspaper he also saw the Honda going backwards, with no one in it.
“She wasn’t speeding or driving erratically at all. I heard the agent say, ‘stop.’ He was in the street and started shooting and walking toward the car,” he told the newspaper.
Border Patrol agents would not say who they were looking to arrest when the shooting took place.
The story told by the Border Patrol authorities is very different. They say that the woman rammed a U.S. Border Patrol agent with a car on a residential road, hurling him onto the hood of the vehicle and prompting him to fatally shoot her through the windshield in self-defense, authorities reported.
The lawman was in that neighborhood with other undercover personnel to serve a felony arrest warrant when the dark green Honda Accord struck him about 1 pm, according to police and federal officials.
“The agent…was hit by the vehicle and carried several hundred yards on the hood before, fearing for his life, (he) did discharge his weapon to get the vehicle to stop,” Border Patrol Deputy Chief Scott told reporters.
Area residents described hearing 6-8 shots ring out. The victim’s family identified her as a 32-year-old mother of five. She died at the scene.
Some eyewitnesses to the incident have contraindicated the Border Patrol’s account of the shooting.
“The officer never got struck by the vehicle,” one witness told News 8, claiming that he saw the encounter. “The vehicle was actually moving in reverse.”
Her family is demanding answers. “I want justice,” her husband shouted. “Whoever shot my wife…he needs to get shot. He needs to get justice served.”
Medics took the agent to a hospital. The extent of the agent’s injuries were unknown. “But he was impacted by a vehicle pretty hard,” the spokesman said.
The victim was not even the subject of the warrant. That suspect remained at large at the time of this incident.
An area resident told NBC 7 San Diego that he was reading his mail in his home when the deadly shooting occurred a short distance away. “I just saw an agent with a gun walking toward the car and yelling,” he said. “But the person inside the car didn’t respond.”
The local police department was investigating the case in conjunction with the Border Patrol and U.S. Inspector General’s office will review the findings, the U-T San Diego paper reported.
Do you think the Border Patrol agent was acting in self-defense? Do you think it was necessary for him to repeatedly fire shots into the car?
Feel free to comment on this blog post. You can contact one of our Gacovino Lake attorneys at 1-800-246-HURT (4878).