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Immigration Law

Death on Sevenmile Road - Melissa del Bosque

"Mike Avila, the shooter, wasn’t a soldier, or a federal agent with Border Patrol; he was a state police officer with the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS).  On Oct. 25, 2012, in the outskirts of the border town of La Joya, local and state police responded within minutes to the shooting.  The disabled Ford F-150 extended cab truck was riddled with bullet holes, three of its tires ripped to shreds.  In the bed of the truck, Marcos Antonio Castro Estrada, who had been struck in the head, was already dead.  Jose Leonardo Coj Cumar, Jose Isabel’s elder brother, had a massive wound in his right leg near his femoral artery.  Vitalino Hernandez, who had been shot in the shoulder and back, wept for Castro Estrada, his brother-in-law.  Of the three wounded men, only Hernandez would survive.

In the wake of the shooting, the American Civil Liberties Union and other civil rights groups demanded an independent investigation.  Border legislators and residents were outraged to learn that DPS marksmen in helicopters were shooting out the tires of suspected drug smugglers as part of an aggressive drug interdiction strategy in their communities.  The Ford F-150, driven by a 14-year-old from Mexico, contained no drugs or weapons, just nine undocumented men hidden in the cab and bed of the truck.

... After the 2012 shooting in La Joya, border residents already skeptical of the DPS hype became alarmed.  National experts on policing were also troubled.  “What if you hit the driver?  Then you’ve got an unguided missile on your hands,” said University of South Carolina professor Geoffrey Alpert, a national expert in police pursuits.  “What they were doing was totally crazy.”  No other domestic law enforcement agency in the country allows its officers to shoot at moving vehicles from a helicopter." - Melissa del Bosque, Texas Observer, Mar. 2, 2015.