Thursday, January 18, 2007

Border Patrol agents -- tempest in a teapot, says Patterico

We denizens of Cathy's World have been discussing the famous/infamous prosecution of two Border Patrol agents in Texas sentence to prison for unlawfully shooting at, and wounding, an alleged drug smuggler. This case became a cause celebre in some conservative circles, where the agents were portrayed as victims of political correctness.

Now blogger Patterico, who is also a prosecutor, has weighed in. Patterico has just posted his look at the case, and concludes it was properly handled, if a fact sheet from the U.S. attorney for the district is accurate. He finds a Debra J. Saunders column about the case that I sent him to be rather one-sided in favor of the agents.

Saunders does mention another fact that goes against the agents — their curious decision to pick up the casings from the shooting, and pretend like it had never happened: “The agents picked up their shells and failed to report the shooting.” But she treats that as a mere administrative issue, deserving of a reprimand: “For that violation of agency policy, Ramos and Compean deserved an administrative review and some sort of job-related punishment.” She never seems to ask why they did it — and to consider the possibility that their actions show that they knew they had done something wrong, and perhaps criminal.

Patterico also quotes from the U.S. Attorney's fact sheet:

In America, law enforcement officers do not get to shoot unarmed suspects who are running away, lie about it to their supervisors and file official reports that are false. That is a crime and prosecutors cannot look the other way.

Unless someone proves the statements made by the U.S. attorney are in error, I'd say that sums it up.

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