The Nogales International's Murphy Woodhouse reports on the recent U.S. Department of Justice findings on the Border Patrol shooting deaths of Carlos Lamadrid and Ramses Barron Torres:
In the Lamadrid case, the DOJ said that “the evidence was insufficient to pursue federal criminal civil rights charges,” because “[u]nder the applicable federal criminal civil rights law, prosecutors must establish, beyond a reasonable doubt, that an official ‘willfully’ deprived an individual of a constitutional right,” a difficult standard to meet.
Homicide charges were also ruled out, “because there is insufficient evidence for the government to disprove that the agent was acting in self-defense when he fired at the rock thrower and mistakenly struck the victim, who was in his line of fire,” according to the DOJ.
On the afternoon he was killed, police reports and videos of the incident show Lamadrid’s vehicle colliding with agent Tidwell’s vehicle, Lamadrid exiting his vehicle and running to a ladder against the border fence, and agent Tidwell aiming and shooting as Lamadrid attempted to flee into Mexico.
Jesús Romo, an attorney representing the family of Lamadrid in their ongoing civil suit against Tidwell, said that the DOJ’s decision to not pursue criminal charges, especially homicide charges, was “out of touch with the realities of the border.”
“[T]his young man was climbing a ladder and he was shot four times in the back,” Romo said. “So, it’s impossible for us to believe that he could have been shooting at someone else, missed that person altogether and shot our client in the back, who had no weapons, no rocks or any other instrument, four times. It is clearly a case of homicide.”
Guerrero, who said that the decision came as a surprise to her, shared her lawyer’s disbelief.
“They say that my son was in the line of fire, but there was big distance between the person on top of the fence and my son who was halfway up it,” she said. “It’s not reasonable. I don’t accept it.”
In the wake of the DOJ’s decision, Guerrero and Romo said that they intend to pressure the Cochise County Attorney’s Office to take up a criminal case against Tidwell. “At least manslaughter,” Romo said. “Or negligent homicide.”