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Details Emerge, Questions Remain in Texas 'Rain of Death' Investigation

October 31, 2012 (2 min read)

"Texas law enforcement agents were close enough to a pickup truck to see it was carrying people, not drugs, before one opened fire, killing two Guatemalan immigrants hiding under a cover in the vehicle's bed, a diplomat said Tuesday.  Texas Department of Public Safety officials have said the helicopter crew believed the truck was carrying a covered drug load in the bed and a trooper aboard fired to stop it.  But after interviewing seven surviving [unauthorized] immigrants, Alba Caceres, Guatemala's consul in McAllen, said there was agreement that the helicopter was 450 to 600 feet away when the trooper inside fired in an attempt to disable the fleeing vehicle.  She said the trooper should have been able to see the people inside." - Associated Press, Oct. 30, 2012.

"On Tuesday evening, the agency’s revised statement directly contradicted comments Alva Caceres, the Guatemalan consul general in McAllen, made to The Monitor immediately following the shooting.  Caceres said the surviving immigrants told her office the tarp covering them flew off the truck during the chase, exposing the people in the bed of the truck.  “According to our preliminary review and irrefutable evidence, the tarp did not blow off the back of the truck during the pursuit,” DPS said Tuesday.  The Monitor has filed an open records request with DPS asking for any video or audio recordings of the incident." - Jacqueline Armendariz, The Monitor, Oct. 30, 2012.

"Half a dozen Guatemalan men lay hidden in the back of a pickup speeding down a rural road near the border, side by side and covered with a sheet, when the truck bed was pelted with rocks.  Or at least the men thought they were rocks.  The truck was barreling down a dirt road and, as the men later told a consular official, they presumed the tires had kicked up rocks into the truck bed.  The objects hitting the truck were bullets.  A trooper with the Texas Department of Public Safety had fired from a helicopter to try to force the truck to stop.  The Oct. 25 incident left two men dead, and now a Guatemalan government official wants to know why the trooper reacted with deadly force.  "I have a lot of questions," said Alba Caceres, the Guatemalan consul in McAllen, a border city about 15 miles east of La Joya.  "Why aren't the narco-traficos pursued this way?"  Caceres asked, referring to drug smugglers.  "Maybe if the officer explained why they made the determination to shoot them, we would understand. Right now, I am very confused."  State officials declined to comment on the incident, citing an ongoing investigation.  Troopers are allowed to fire from helicopters under the department's policy on the use of deadly force.  The policy, a copy of which was provided by a spokesman, notes troopers can fire at vehicles to stop the driver, defend themselves or someone at risk, or make an arrest." - Molly Hennessey-Fiske, Los Angeles Times, Oct. 31, 2012.