Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R-Costa Mesa) wrote to Trump seeking a presidential pardon for two border patrol agents who were found guilty of shooting a fleeing suspect in the back and then covering it up.
The agents, Ignacio “Nacho” Ramos and Jose Alonso Compean, were convicted in 2006 of assault with a dangerous weapon, lying about the incident, and violating the Fourth Amendment rights of an undocumented immigrant named Osvaldo Aldrete-Davila.
The agents, who each originally received a prison sentence of more than 10 years each, already had their sentences commuted by President George W. Bush. Neither agent is currently in prison.
Rohrabacher, who was joined by seven other Republicans in making the request, presented a skewed version of events in a letter to Trump that ignored significant and pertinent facts of the case.
“Investigators found that Osvaldo Aldrete-Davila had put his hands in the air and tried to surrender, but Compean — instead of apprehending him — had swung at him with the butt of his shotgun,” Texas Monthly reported in 2007. “Aldrete-Davila had bolted, and as he ran, Compean and Ramos had fired at him 15 times, with Compean stopping to reload his Beretta as he tried to hit his mark.”
After the incident, the agents failed to follow proper procedure. Texas Monthly detailed what happened:
Neither agent announced the shooting over the radio or informed his supervisor of what had happened; the official report about the pursuit made no mention of their firing their weapons. And rather than secure the area so that evidence could be preserved, Compean had retrieved most of his spent shell casings and tossed them into a ditch. Only when questioned by investigators a month later did he offer the explanation that he and Ramos had acted in self-defense; Aldrete-Davila had been “pointing something shiny” that “looked like a gun.” A federal jury, which heard both agents’ testimony, rejected their version of events and convicted them on five out of six criminal charges, including assault, obstruction of justice, and civil rights violations.
A jury found that these two agents clearly broke the law and violated Aldrete-Davila’s civil rights.
Yet shockingly, Rohrabacher, and the seven other Republicans who signed the letter, are treating convicted criminals like heroes.
“We ought to give both of these Border Patrol agents medals and send them out there to bag another one,” Congressman Ted Poe (R-TX), one of the signatories on Rohrabacher’s pardon request letter, said at the time.
When the agents first reported to prison, Rohrabacher said, “Today is a day of infamy and disgrace.” Rohrabacher later attacked the U.S. attorney in charge of the case, calling him “a PR [public relations] man for the drug lords.”
Rohrabacher and his colleagues say the agents deserve a pardon because they shot a drug smuggler. It’s true that Aldrete-Davila was transporting a large quantity of marijuana into the United States.
But crucially, the agents didn’t know about the marijuana at the time they shot Aldrete-Davila. They violated his rights and police procedure with no justifiable cause.
In his letter to Trump asking for a pardon of agents who shot a man in the back, Rohrabacher claims, without any evidence, that the agents “were victims of politics.” He also alleges that the George W. Bush administration “was attempting to signal to Mexico that it was not serious about immigration enforcement on the southern border, simultaneously signaling to the Border Patrol that doing their jobs could lead to criminal prosecution.”
But these men weren’t “doing their jobs.” They fired 15 shots at a fleeing man who tried to peacefully surrender.
Rohrabacher’s racist animosity against immigrants is widely known. He has previously raged against the DREAM Act, claiming that only “racist libs” supported the bipartisan bill to provide legal protections to undocumented people who were brought to the United States as children. He said the bill was a “betrayal of Americans” and claimed it would adversely impact “non-minority” citizens.
And now he would like a pardon from Trump for two men who shot an undocumented immigrant in the back. He even wants to see these men return to immigration enforcement, going so far as to say that they “would proudly return to the front lines to protect our borders if given the opportunity.”
Again, these men are no longer in jail. But Rohrabacher would still like Trump to go further than Bush and issue a full pardon — perhaps hoping that these agents might be able to, in the odious words of Ted Poe, “bag another one.”