Friday, August 1, 2008

Ramos and Compean remain in jail, “The good guys lost this round”

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, issuing its opinion in the case of Border Patrol agents Ignacio “Nacho” Ramos and Jose Compean, has affirmed all convictions except those for tampering with an official proceeding. The agents were convicted of charges arising from the shooting of an unarmed drug smuggler. Their sentences were increased because they were found guilty of committing a crime with a firearm.

Judge E. Grady Jolly noted, “For the most part, the trial of this case was about credibility, and although the jury could have gone either way, it chose not to believe the defendants’ version of the crucial events of February 17, 2005."

But Congressman Dana Rohrabacher quipped “The court has sided with the prosecutors who threw the book at the good guys, and the good guys have lost this round.” Republican lawmakers, conservative media personalities and critics of illegal immigration see the case as that of agents acting in self-defense against a dangerous drug smuggler who had illegally entered the U.S.

Ramos and Compean have been in prison 560 days, in solitary confinement. They still can appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. If that fails, President Bush is the only person who could shorten their sentences. The president has shown little interest in the case.

47 comments:

The Saj said...

"If that fails, President Bush is the only person who could shorten their sentences. "

That's not true...

The final choice will be that of The People. Who can determine to shorten their sentence. Even if it means establishing a new government.

Denis Drew said...

Federal courts since border guards' case: the new criminals-can-do-no-wrong club?

Ramos and Compean were charged with violating the civil rights of a suspect based on a 1985 Supreme Court ruling that a fleeing suspect may not be shot unless the suspect presents a danger to the officer. (Tennessee v. Garner, 471 US 1, 1985).

Given their conviction by the testimony of a fleeing drug dealer who had already done violence one officer and could be virtually presumed armed delivering a giant load of drugs (the violence against the officer was enough in the real world to warn both officers that this was no illegal seeking honest work): no police officer in the nation may now defend themselves against a fleeing suspect believed to have an gun in their hand -- not just on their person -- even if same has already attacked a fellow officer on the spot, even if presumably in fear of a decades-long sentence if captured.

It may only be a matter of time before an officer is killed holding fire thinking of the fate of Ramos and Compean or before another officer is put at hazard in a similarly misbegotten prosecution following the example of this one: further driving home that officers would be better off hanging back anytime a potentially armed suspect is fleeing.

The situation faced by Ramos and Compean are faced by officers every day -- except perhaps for the unusual number of threatening factors in the border guards’ case.

CH2 OS ROGER said...

“The good guys lost this round”?

What? The "Good Guys" you speak of are the ones that hid evidence, shot an unarmed man, committed assault with a deadly weapon, engaged in discharging of a firearm in relation to a crime of violence, and a civil rights violation. Wow, in an upside-down world, you fanatics make alot of sense. But then again, the Repubican Party is stuffed full of pedophiles, so no surprise here.

Passionate Conservative said...

ch2 os Roger:

Come on, they shot a drug dealer in the ass. When the drug dealer was given immunity to testify, he brought MORE drugs in.

Unless you like the idea of drug dealers being able to cross the border with impunity, you would see the bigger picture. The drug dealer was the perp here. The government effed up.

Zeke said...

What a travesty. Our country is seriously screwed. How about the charge of "using a gun in the commission of a crime" being added on. That means that ANY crime by law enforcement (even make believe ones like this case) can be 'enhanced'.

Funny how laws so often backfire that way, isn't it.

As for people like Ch2 Os Roger, our nation is now chock full of idiots like him, many judges even.

The solution to our problems will not be fast, easy or pretty. A lot has to change if we are to have a real nation that can defend itself again.

Joseph said...

This is just typical liberal bullshit. We need to stop worrying about scumbags and look out for the good guys. Worse case scenario....

guy was unarmed

I say "fuck him" he was bringing drugs in this country to poison our kids.

Nicholas said...

Inundate the Republican Party's grassroots platform suggestion area at http://www.gopplatform2008.com/intro.aspx with demands that Ramos-Compean be set free. The GOP platform will be created in the last week of August; get your comments in before them.

Centerright said...

These gentlemen made a mistake. Sometimes the good guys can go bad

Ken Prescott said...

Given their conviction by the testimony of a fleeing drug dealer who had already done violence one officer

Given that Ramos and Compean's original statements made no mention of any violence on the part of Aldrete-Davila--as well as neglecting to mention that they opened fire on him as well--the bolded portion of your statement is, to put it mildly, questionable.

The version where Aldrete-Davila attacked Ramos and Compean is the SECOND story they told after their first story was revealed to be false.

Do you really believe that someone who lies to you the first time is going to tell you the entire truth the second time out?

Think about this--the most credible witness in the case was a drug smuggler. Not the Border Patrol agents--the drug smuggler.

THAT is why Ramos and Compean (a) went to prison and (b) are going to stay there.

Joseph said...

Ken,

You are not correct.

Ken Prescott said...

You are not correct.

In which particular(s)?

Icom2957 said...

Last night on Lou Dobbs Presidential Candidate Chuck Baldwin of the Constitution Party said that one of his first acts as President would be to pardon and reinstate (if they wanted the jobs back) Ramos and Compean. He is the only candidate that I heard even speak their names. as a peace officer in Texas this means a great deal to me and he cinched my vote.

Denis Drew said...

Ramos -- Compean

The federal prosecution of the two border guards began with the prosecution citing a constitutional decision written by Justice White which found an officer could have no authority to shoot a fleeing suspect if the officer did was not sure the suspect had a gun (Tennessee v. Garner, 471 US 1, 1985) -- which Ramos and Compean honestly admitted they did not -- which sole point is what making the shooting a federal civil right case hung upon.

The ruling was aimed at practices like Tennessee’s which routinely allowed officers to shoot fleeing suspects (an New York State’s not too much earlier -- which had a rule that every police officer was to fire a warning shot over the head of every fleeing suspect and then shoot to kill -- saw an example of this on a 1960ish episode of "Naked City") which routinely allowed officers to shoot fleeing suspects.

The opinion of the Court was written specifically for a case of shooting a young teenage burglar who was climbing over a fence in the dark -- and who had given the officer no cause to believe he was armed. In other words the opinion was written to do away with routine shooting of fleeing suspects (a then wide spread practice) -- and was not nuanced as to the degree of danger facing the officer.

The border guard shot at a fleeing Mexican suspect who had marked himself as a drug dealer by seriously assaulting the officer’s partner (illegal immigrants never assault officers, ditto for coyotes), had abandoned a truck which likely therefore contained enough illegal drugs to put him behind bars for most of his life, and could be assumed to have a gun to protect said shipment: could therefore be plausibly feared to be willing to escape at any cost (A.K.A., armed and dangerous) -- unlike a neighborhood teen climbing over a fence.

The Supreme Court decision specifically ruled out shooting if the officer was uncertain a fleeing suspect had a gun -- but did not take away the officer’s discretion to shoot in a situation where the totality of circumstances (clearly in this case) announced mortal danger to the officer’s life.

Joe said...

I'm thinking that there is a serious problem with the legal system in california, and if we arrest our border patrol agents for doing their job then how can we expect to have any control over our borders. I mean if I have to worry about getting arrested for doing my job I'm probably not going to do it.

illegal aliens technically don't have any rights at all because our constitution was written to protect the right of it's citizens not people who just happen to be in it's borders. I have no problem with immigrants but illegals I have a big problem with.

seeing as the illegal who was shot technially didn't have any rights in the first place they really couldn't have violated his civil rights, and since he was running drugs and probably ran seeing as he got shot in the ass. they were justified in shooting him.

terriergal said...

I have conservative friends who say they did 'some things very wrong' but that their sentences are outrageous. I'm trying to find details on what exactly these 'wrong things' are. Can someone enlighten me?

terriergal said...

Ken Prescott said":THAT is why Ramos and Compean (a) went to prison and (b) are going to stay there.


Because they lied under pressure? Sure it's not good but considering the damned if you do damned if you don't pressure our border agents are under these days, (not to mention our military) ... I can hardly believe 12 years because their story changed.

Derek said...

Maybe the Border Guards should only have blanks in their firearms. Or better still, do away with the guns and have the guards say "bang, you're dead" to the illegal drug runners!!!
Jailing these two guys was manifestly unfair. They should have been issued with medals for intercepting this scum who could very well be responsible for killing a lot of US kids with their goddamned drugs!!!.

oscar said...

The smuggler in this case is of course a scum bag, but that does not give any officer the right to shoot him in the back. If these agents had done their jobs correctly you bet they would not have left key details out of the report they should have given. We need to assure that our law enforcement officers/agents follow the law. If we let them bend or break the law today tommorrow they'll write their own and do what they please.

Joseph said...

I disagree Oscar. The only issue here was that the officer failed to fill out the proper paper work due to thinking he did not hit the guy. Is that professional? No, of course not, but it certainly does not warrant jail time in my opinion.

Ken Prescott said...

Because they lied under pressure?

The only "pressure" they were under was their own consciousness of guilt. It's the same sort of "pressure" experienced by all criminals.

Ken Prescott said...

The only issue here was that the officer failed to fill out the proper paper work due to thinking he did not hit the guy. Is that professional? No, of course not, but it certainly does not warrant jail time in my opinion.

They materially misrepresented the facts of the event, and systematically ensured that physical evidence was destroyed.

That's a bit beyond "unprofessional" and all the way into "consciousness of guilt."

If you or me were to do any such thing, we'd be looking at 20 to life for obstruction and attempted murder.

patriotjoan said...

Again, the drug runner had NO business SMUGGLING drugs into OUR country to BEGIN with! PUT the blame WHERE it belongs--and it sure is NOT Ramos and Compean!

Ken Prescott said...

Again, the drug runner had NO business SMUGGLING drugs into OUR country to BEGIN with!

True. But Ramos and Compean had no business using deadly force without good and sufficient cause, submitting false reports, destroying evidence of their actions, and making a prosecution of Aldrete-Davila impossible by failing to follow the most basic police procedure (i.e., failing to secure the evidence and maintaining a chain of custody for it).

PUT the blame WHERE it belongs--and it sure is NOT Ramos and Compean!

Did somebody hold a gun to their heads and order them to do all those things I outlined above?

Joseph said...

Thats bullshit, Ken. You are full of it.

John Gailey said...

Over the last several months, many posts here, mention legal rights, civil rights, etc...

Let me remind everyone of two facts:

1) Mr. Davilla has no civil rights in this country; he is not a citizen of this country.

2) Officers Compean and Ramos took an oath to "defend the constitution from all enemies foreign and domestic".

Our constitution gives no rights at all to foreign aggressors. They have no protection under the law for smuggling, assault, trespass, etc.

This drug dealer was convicted on more than one occasion for smuggling large amounts of dangerous drugs across our borders; he gets a pass.

Compean and Ramos should have received written reprimands, and suspensions; not jail time and certainly not prison time of over a decade.

Ken Prescott said...

Thats bullshit, Ken. You are full of it.

You keep saying that over and over--but you refuse to demonstrate exactly where I have made any errors of fact.

oscar said...

I have to agree with Ken and disagree with Joseph, because these guys basically admitted wrong doing by their omissions and attempts to hide evidence. If they would have reported the incident properly, I agree they may have just gotten fired, the fact that they did't just proves they felt they were wrong. They failed to report that they fired on an "armed"(according to their version) suspect over a dozen times. I'm surprised they bothered to report the van filled with drugs. The exchange of gunfire with a suspect seems more pressing to me, even if they thought they did not hit him. I'm sorry but the agents version is just not credible or supported by evidence. The jury had no choice but to convict these guys.

Denis Drew said...

Folks,
Don't let "Kens" get to you. I comment on a lot of blogs, mostly progressive economic and political blogs (got one of my own that a few people actually look at :-]) and "Kens" are a normal phenomenon. Trolls aren't all bad: they make me come up with some good ideas. "Kens" are irresponsible but you can't get too mad at them -- they are either in their teens or past their teens and can't get a date. :-)

Ken,
We normally only try cases when it seems beyond reasonable doubt that the officer was NOT in mortal danger.

In the federal civil rights case the DEFINITION of not in mortal danger was supposed to be back turned, not sure the defendant had a gun -- as prescribed in the Garner case. Problem is "not sure" CAN mean a reasonable concern about mortal danger despite the seeming one-size-fits-all Garner definition. The Garner case was a reaction to rules of the era allowing the use of deadly force JUST TO PREVENT ESCAPE -- which was very common in the era. I read in the paper at the time the words of Justice White: "It is better for all felony suspects to escape than for all felony suspects to be killed." The focus was on the value of human life v. the value of catching the suspect.

Again (if you are not from a border area you may not be familiar with this) Mexicans are extremely passive in the face of law enforcement -- they just don't fight back. If a Mexican assaults a pretty good sized officer leaving him sprawled and flees leaving a van behind you have more than reasonable cause to believe he is, number one, in extreme fear of doing 20 years for a van load of drugs (this perp is now doing 10 years) and, number two, he has a gun. The totality of circumstances in this case is not what the "not sure" in the Garner case had in mind.

The issue is not whether there was "considerable question" of mortal danger -- the border officers said they were not sure the fleeing suspect had a gun -- the question is of how much discretion is allowed the officers if they had reasonable fear of mortal danger.

If anyone thinks someone cannot turn around and kill you before you stop them, see the last scene in the movie Breathless. Richard Gere (fastest hands in Hollywood -- seen him do similar before) picks a gun off the ground and shoots the older officer who is holding a gun on him before the officer can pull his trigger. Used to be that fast at everything myself -- it can happen.

Denis Drew said...

Oscar,
As far as I understand it, if the TOTALITY of circumstances (see post above) implies mortal danger to the officer the officer is allowed to use deadly force. That's it. Oscar,
Whatever else they reported or did not report -- if you believe they were in mortal danger that is all there should be to it, as far as I understand.

The prosecutor mistakenly understood the the don't shoot when back is turned as a one size fits all rule -- in most cases it is a good one.

patriotjoan said...

Ramos and Compean WERE in GRAVE danger! The drug runner Aldrete-Davila ASSAULTED Agent Compean BEFORE Agent Ramos shot Aldrete-Davila a few moments later when, as Aldrete-Davila was fleeing for Mexico, he suddenly STOPPED, TURNED AROUND, and MADE a THREATENING GESTURE at Agent Ramos! Of course, at that distance, Agent Ramos could NOT tell WHAT Aldrete-Davila was aiming at him, so he reacted INSTINCTIVELY and in SELF-defense, FIRED on Aldrete-Davila (and Agent Ramos ALSO had to PROTECT his friend Agent Compean!) Even then, Agent Ramos COULDN'T tell WHETHER or NOT he had hit the drug runner, for, incredibly, Aldrete-Davila SPUN AROUND and KEPT RUNNING, DASHED ACROSS the RIVER into Mexico, JUMPED into a WAITING van and SPED away! In light of THESE trying circumstances, the agents had EVERY RIGHT to shoot Aldrete-Davila!

Ken Prescott said...

The drug runner Aldrete-Davila ASSAULTED Agent Compean BEFORE Agent Ramos shot Aldrete-Davila a few moments later when, as Aldrete-Davila was fleeing for Mexico, he suddenly STOPPED, TURNED AROUND, and MADE a THREATENING GESTURE at Agent Ramos!

Their initial report made no mention of any such actions by Aldrete-Davila. That was in the SECOND report they made after the Office of the Inspector General started raising the Whiskey-Tango Foxtrot flags.

If someone were to give you a false first account of an event, would you uncritically accept their second account as the no-kidding truth, or might you be even a wee bit skeptical?

oscar said...

The problem I've had with this case from the beginning are all the facts the agents left out of their initial version of what happened. Have you guys read the transcripts about how this case even came to light. Here is what I remember of the top of my head

1. Davila shows up shot in Mexico
2. A relative of Davila calls her relative in the U.S.
3. That relative calls another who is married to or is a relative of a border patrol agent in Arizona.
4. The agent looks for information about a border shooting in Texas and their is no record, so people begin to ask questions.

We know about this case and what happened that day out of pure luck not because anybody did what they were supposed to. If these agents felt they did the right thing they would have reported it.

Denis Drew said...

Oscar,
Again:
If the TOTALITY of circumstances (see post above) implies mortal danger to the officer the officer is allowed to use deadly force. That's it.

Whatever else they reported or did not report -- if you believe they were in mortal danger that is all there should be to it.

The prosecutor mistakenly took the the don't shoot fleeing suspect rule to be a one size fits all rule -- in most cases it is a good one, not all.

Ken Prescott said...

If the TOTALITY of circumstances (see post above) implies mortal danger to the officer the officer is allowed to use deadly force. That's it.

Exactly. And the TOTALITY of circumstances in this case are as follows:

1. Immediately after the shooting, Ramos and Compean submitted a false report of the incident that made no mention of the shooting.

2. Immediately after the shooting, Ramos and Compean proceeded to alter the scene of the event by removing their casings and disposing of them.

The net effect of these actions was to make an accurate assessment of the totality of circumstances impossible.

Particularly noteworthy is the participation in these actions by Agent Ramos, who was a member of the Sector Evidence Team. Ramos in particular would know the requirements for reporting the incident and processing the scene in order to determine exactly what happened.

Whatever else they reported or did not report -- if you believe they were in mortal danger that is all there should be to it.

And therein lies the problem. The actions of Ramos and Compean after the shooting make it extremely difficult for me to believe that they actually were or had reason to believe that they were in mortal danger. In fact, their actions point to belief (if not actual knowledge) on their part that the shooting was not justified.

If they weren't actually guilty, they went out of their way to act as if they were guilty as sin and very conscious of that guilt.

Attempting to conceal one's actions has always been treated in the law as consciousness of guilt. In the absence of the evidence that Ramos and Compean destroyed, the only circumstantial evidence available is the fact that these agents did attempt to conceal the totality of circumstances in their own shooting incident.

oscar said...

I know what you are saying Denis, but the problem I have is exactly what Ken pointed out. These guys were not rookies, they knew what they were doing. I can't believe the shooting was because of their mortal fear, all the evidence states the opposite. I think these cowboys got a little excited, did something stupid, and then tried to cover it up. The only thing they could have done to make themselves look any more guilty is to have kept the drugs for themselves or disposed of the van.

Denis Drew said...

Oscar (A.K.A., Ken? -- I suspect you are the same teenage troll -- this is not the place to troll; too personal, but we must consider your age),

"The evidence states" they were in mortal danger and that is that -- whatever they reported or not -- they had the discretion to use deadly force.

Ken Prescott said...

"The evidence states" they were in mortal danger and that is that -- whatever they reported or not -- they had the discretion to use deadly force.

But there isn't any evidence aside from their own statements--Ramos and Compean made sure of that. And because they made false statements in their first reports, and destroyed evidence, I am unwilling to rely solely on their word.

(Funny thing, that: if someone lies to me, particularly about something extremely important, I will assume that person to be a liar unless their statements can be independently verified to be truthful.)

So what evidence, precisely, are you citing in the above statement?

Denis Drew said...

Ken (Oscar?), like most trolls you can write very fluently but you seemingly cannot read. Ask another adult.

Joseph said...

Ken you are a total arm chair commando and you have no idea about what its like to be an LEO.

Ken Prescott said...

Ken you are a total arm chair commando and you have no idea about what its like to be an LEO.

You're quite right. I have no experience at being a LEO.

But I know many fine and honorable men and women who are LEOs or former LEOs, and I know they would not have filed false reports or destroyed evidence, no matter how questionable the shooting.

Are you saying that my experience is unusual, and that most LEOs do engage in this behavior?

Wow. You must not hold LEOs in high regard if you believe that they are mostly dishonest folks looking out for their own skins instead of upholding the law in all of their deeds.

Ken Prescott said...

Ken (Oscar?), like most trolls you can write very fluently but you seemingly cannot read. Ask another adult.

1. I am not Oscar. Kindly keep that in mind.

2. I've read your statement multiple times. It has the defect of relying on the statements of Ramos and Compean, whom I've already pointed out have some severe credibility issues of their own making.

So, just what other evidence are you relying on to support your statement that the totality of circumstances OK'd the use of deadly force?

Look, I would have been willing to accept this shooting as an honest mistake at worst--but only if Ramos and Compean had been honest from the beginning. I expect my employees to be truthful with me. It's one of my little quirks.

oscar said...

I also have to say that although Ken and I agree on this occassion, we are not the same person. I think we just have two school of thoughts here, I for one have learned a powerful lesson from in the last few years. I have always given authority figures and politicians the benifit of the doubt, but these days I want justification and proof. I see the mess our country is in and it reminds me of what happens when the people sit back and have a blind faith in those with power. I guess that is why I can't take the word of two agents who we all know lied once already.

Denis Drew said...

Last week, a Bart subway officer in San Francisco shot a handcuffed detainee who was lying on the ground in the back -- on camera -- and was not even arrested for a week. If he explains that he thought he had a Taser in his hand and not a gun he will likely get off.

Ramos and Compean shot a 99% sure armed and desperate to avoid decades in the dungeon drug dealer -- whom they claim aimed what looked like a weapon at them. If they had not admitted being uncertain it was a gun he pointed at them they would not have been prosecuted -- under what the prosecutor took to be a one-size-fits-all Supreme Court ruling against shooting a fleeing suspect without certainty the suspect has a gun.

Which ruling should really be taken to fit suspects for whom there is no indication they have a gun (a wide spread policy of the era which the ruling was clearly aimed at). Even if the fleeing drug dealer had not pointed something at them, they still should have had discretion to shoot because the totality of the circumstances (99% sure armed and desperate) made for a reasonable perception of mortal danger.

Ken Prescott said...

Last week, a Bart subway officer in San Francisco shot a handcuffed detainee who was lying on the ground in the back -- on camera -- and was not even arrested for a week. If he explains that he thought he had a Taser in his hand and not a gun he will likely get off.

Only if the jury buys it--and I think that is not a likely outcome. In that case, "get off" means--at best--that he "only" gets convicted of involuntary manslaughter.

Ramos and Compean shot a 99% sure armed and desperate to avoid decades in the dungeon drug dealer -- whom they claim aimed what looked like a weapon at them.

They only claimed it to be so after they'd already been caught out having submitted a false report that said nothing much had happened aside from the suspect absconding back into Mexico.

If they had not admitted being uncertain it was a gun he pointed at them they would not have been prosecuted -- under what the prosecutor took to be a one-size-fits-all Supreme Court ruling against shooting a fleeing suspect without certainty the suspect has a gun.

You're neatly glossing over the false official statement and the destruction of evidence.

Denis, destruction of evidence, false reports, and other attempts at concealment of material facts have always been viewed in the same light: as consciousness of guilt. They always have been. They always will be. If you were to engage in such actions subsequent to shooting somebody, the cops would cheerfully send you up to prison for attempted murder and obstruction--and they would be absolutely right in doing so.

For a guy who complains about the totality of circumstances somehow not being considered by the prosecutor, you are militant in your refusal to consider the totality of Ramos and Compean's actions. Ramos and Compean, if they were not guilty of a criminal act, went out of their way to act guilty.

As I've said elsewhere, I would've been willing to accept it as an honest mistake at the very worst--but in order for me to say "honest mistake," Ramos and Compean would've had to have been honest from the outset.

Joseph said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joseph said...

President Bush has commuted both Ramos' and Compean's sentences! I'm hoping that they get a full pardon!

oscar said...

On the issue of the officer in San Francisco shooting the unarmed man, he screwed up and destroyed peoples lives including his own. A female officer in California did something similar a few years ago and I think she's walking around free. In both of these cases the suspects were already in custody or restrained, I don't know how they can get away with the "I had to take quick action" excuse. There are responsibilities that come with carrying a gun and if they can't tell the difference between their real gun and their stun guns in non-life-threatning situations, they need to be mall security.(nevermind sometimes I go to the mall, they might get me)

Ramos and Campean will soon be free men and I have to admit that I won't lose sleep over it. I guess at this point I'm willing to believe that they learned their lessons and will treat people as human beings from now on. Lets try to put the era of "by any means necessary" and "eye for an eye" behind us before we all go blind.( tribute to Ghandi)