Tuesday, 24 April, 2018

Federal Bureau of Investigation says no evidence of attack on dead Border Patrol agent

Rogelio Martinez Border Patrol agent whose 'murder' Trump used to justify border wall 'was not killed in attack', says FBI
| 11 February, 2018, 05:39

Border Patrol agent killed last November died from blunt injuries to the head, an autopsy report said.

Martinez was patrolling near Van Horn, Texas, with his partner, Stephen Garland, when authorities said Garland radioed for help on the night of November 18.

The next day, President Donald Trump tweeted one agent was killed, the other badly injured, and "We will, and must build the Wall!"

Two people previously identified as persons of interest are not connected to Martinez's death, or his partner's injuries, the Federal Bureau of Investigation said Wednesday. The FBI did determine that a Border Patrol dispatcher had spoken to a disoriented Garland, who said that he thought they "ran into a culvert". No suspects have been linked to the incident.

Mr. Garland, who also had major head injuries and broken bones, was later released from the hospital.

The statement noted that a Border Patrol dispatcher spoke with Martinez's injured partner that night.

President Trump quickly blamed Martinez's death on undocumented immigrants, tweeting, "We will seek out and bring to justice those responsible". Garland is said to have no recollection of what happened, according to reports.

The FBI had identified two persons of interest, but through forensic analysis both have been determined not to have had anything to do with the death of Agent Martinez and the injuries to his partner.


Chris Cabrera, a spokesman for the National Border Patrol Council, said the union disagreed with the findings layed out in the internal memo and the FBI's account. The FBI began investigating the incident as a "potential assault" but released few details early on and cautioned against speculation.

Mr. Martinez's father, Jose Martinez, said in an interview shortly after his son died that he believed his son had been attacked, perhaps in a trap set by someone.

An informant familiar with human smugglers told Border Patrol officials that a pair of brothers recently smuggled across the border had admitted to assaulting the agents, according to a warrant later filed to search the brothers' auto in New Mexico.

Arizona Rep. Martha McSally, now running for Arizona's open Senate seat called it a "murder" and said it should serve as a "wake up call to our country that we must have the resolve to secure our border and protect Americans from deadly threats like these".

"To date none of the more than 650 interviews completed, locations searched, or evidence collected and analyzed have produced evidence that would support the existence of a scuffle, altercation, or attack on November 18, 2017", said the release from the El Paso office of Emmerson Buie, a special agent in charge. As a result of the exhaustive investigation, several suspects in Portales, N.M., were charged with alien smuggling, but none were found to be connected to the death of the 36-year-old agent. The office said that the cause of those injuries remained a mystery. "Our view hasn't changed".

"I find it hard (to believe) that a fall could have caused all the damage that he had", she said. Agent Martinez later succumbed to his injuries.

"If you got hit from behind and didn't have a chance to defend yourself, then how would you defend yourself?"

The FBI said it would continue investigating the incident and continues to offer a $50,000 reward in addition to the State of Texas's $20,000 reward, bringing the total to $70,000.

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