Border agents shoot Mexican drug runner, face jail time – but should they?

This news is a few weeks old, but I’ve been so busy with some other projects that I’m behind in a lot of postings that I’d like to get out. As the healine indicates, the basic bit of this story is that two border patrol agents shot Osvaldo Aldrete Davila, a Mexican drug runner, in the back, and are now serving time for violating Davila’s civil rights. There is apparently quite a bit of grassroots support for freeing the agents, typically with some variant of a “They should not be imprisoned for doing their job/defending our borders” as the reason. I will admit that I don’t see why these men should be imprisoned for doing their jobs, but there is a bit of murkiness to the affair that makes it not so clear cut.

Compean and Ramos were found guilty in a jury trial of violating the civil rights of Osvaldo Aldrete Davila when they shot him in Fabens, Texas, about 30 miles east of El Paso, then tampering with evidence by picking up shell casings from the shooting.

The ex-agents say Davila had a gun, and that’s why they fired at him, but a gun was never found.

In exchange for his testimony against the two agents, Davila was granted immunity from prosecution by the U.S. government for attempting to smuggle nearly 750 pounds of marijuana – which had a street value of over $1 million – into the United States on the day he was shot.

. . .

“They also had received arms training the day before; that said, if you have an incident like this, you must preserve the evidence and you must report it promptly. Instead, according to court documents, they went around and picked up the shell casings. Furthermore, they asked one of their colleagues also to help pick up shell casings. They disposed of them.”

Ramos and Compean were convicted on 11 of 12 counts.

“The facts of this case are such that I would invite everybody to take a full look at the documented record,” Snow said. “This is not the case of the United States saying, ‘We are not going to support people who go after drug dealers.’ Of course, we are. We think it’s incumbent to go after drug dealers, and we also think that it’s vitally important to make sure that we provide border security so our people are secure.

“We also believe that the people who are working to secure that border themselves obey the law.”

He added: “I do think that there’s been a characterization that somehow the government is turning a blind eye toward the law in enforcing the law.”

I’m not big on granting Davila immunity from prosecution, but there is the smell of some kind of cover-up by the agents, and thosebehind the investigation and decision to prosecute may have just been looking for a way to get more information on what happened. Picking up shell casings and not reporting the shooting sounds fishy, even if it is totally innocuous. Without a lot more information on what happened, what is known, what was found in the investigation, and so on, this seems too hard to judge by outside observers. Maybe I’m wrong on that, though. Should these men be serving prison time? There has been an appeal to President Bush to pardon the two men. Should that be done?

If you want to find out more to help form an opinion, naturally Google news is a good source. From Google, I found a good source of extra information at NewsMax, as well as some good recent updates from Fox News. The basic information I’m seeing certainly makes the shooting in self-defense claims of the agents believable, but the clean-up and delayed reporting still muddies things up.

[tags]Border agents jailed for shooting drug runner, Should the border patrol agents be released after suspicious shooting?[/tags]