WND has obtained a Department of Homeland Security memo indicating Border Patrol agent Jose Compean made a complete, in-person verbal report to his supervisor at the scene immediately following the shooting incident for which he and colleague Ignacio Ramos are now in prison.
The May 15, 2005, report filed by DHS Special Agent Christopher Sanchez documents a conversation between Compean and his supervisor that explains the decision by all nine Border Patrol agents and supervisors on the scene not to file written reports.
As reported by WND yesterday, a DHS memo filed by Sanchez April 12, 2005, shows seven agents and two supervisors were present at the Feb. 17, 2005 incident also decided not to file written reports.
The April 12, 2005, DHS memo stated that all the agents present at the incident were equally guilty for not filing a written report.
These memos directly contradict the repeated statements of the prosecutor, U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton, that agents Ramos and Compean filed false reports about the incident.
As far as WND can determine, no written reports were filed by any of the Border Patrol agents or supervisors on the field.
Moreover, the record of the May 15, 2005, memo indicates Compean was truthful in reporting verbally to the most senior supervisor present at the incident.
Sanchez’s memo of May 15, 2005, is a transcript of a hearing held by Compean with El Paso Border Patrol Sector Chief Louis Barker. The hearing was held at Compean’s request in order to protest his proposed indefinite suspension resulting from his March 18, 2005, arrest on criminal charges.
The first part of the hearing was held April 7, 2005, before Compean’s April 13, 2005, indictment. The second recording from the hearing is dated April 28, 2005.
At the administrative hearing, Compean was accompanied by union representative Robert Russell, a vice president of Local 1929, the El Paso branch of the National Border Patrol Council.
In the opening statement transcribed from the April 7, 2005, audio cassette, Russell makes Barker aware that Compean had made a complete report on the scene to Jonathan Richards, the more senior of the two supervisors present at the incident.
Russell’s testimony references a wound Compean suffered on his hand, a gash between the thumb and index finger, which he suffered when scuffling in the ditch with the drug smuggler, Osbaldo Aldrete-Davila, who had abandoned his vehicle and was attempting to escape back to Mexico on foot. Russell points to this wound as evidence of aggravated assault committed on Compean by the drug smuggler.
Here is Russell’s recorded testimony:
Well, I mean, the base … the basis of this is basically … ummm … Mr. Compean … an assault took place that day against one of our agents, and he did defend himself, and the part of the assault is never mentioned in the complaint or anywhere by OIG (Office of Inspector General) that they know clearly how this did take place.
A few sentences later, Russell again references that what transpired at the scene was observed by the agents and supervisors in the field and subsequently fully known to the Border Patrol management at the station in Fabens, Texas.
Russell indicates that management at Fabens themselves chose not to make a report about Compean’s injury. Here is his testimony:
Even management at the station in Fabens was fully aware of what had transpired and for whatever reason nothing was ever generated … and once all this comes forward, I mean, it’s my belief even his attorneys’ belief that even once that does come forward and all that information is presented that the charges will possibly be dropped … or dismissed … or he will be found not guilty … based on that … what did transpire.
Directly contradicting prosecutor Sutton’s assertion that agents Ramos and Compean filed false reports, the April 2005 administrative hearing reveals Compean was forthcoming concerning the events of the incident.
In the second cassette, Russell makes clear that the reluctance to do more formal reporting after the incident came from supervisor Richards.
But the fact of the matter is an assault did take place. Umm … Mr. Richards did know about it.
Umm … whether Mr. Compean … Mr. Compean said yes sir to this or whether he was assaulted or not … doesn’t negate Mr. Richards responsibility to take some action from the facts that were presented to him as to what happened out there.
He was on the scene. He was told by another agent exactly what had happened and it pretty much apparently stopped at that point.
Russell argues Richards did not want to go through the trouble of filing written paperwork. So rather than press the hand injury, which Compean felt was minor, Compean gave in to Richards’ pressure to forget about the hand injury, obviating the only issue the supervisor felt might be needed to document in writing.
Station Chief Barker asked Compean why he didn’t report the shooting. Compean admitted that possibly a written report should have been filed, but he and the other Border Patrol on the scene considered the incident inconsequential.
As …As I stated to … umm … to this earlier … I didn’t … I just … I know it was wrong for us not to reported it and I … if I would have thought that he had been hit or anything like that had happened I would have … I didn’t … I just … I knew we were going to get in trouble because the way … the way it’s been at the station the last two … three years … uhh … I mean everything always comes down to the alien. The agents are as soon as anything comes up … it is always … always the agent’s fault. The agents have always been cleared but, with management, it’s always been the agent’s fault. We’re the ones that get in trouble.
Compean continued to note that Aldrete-Davila escaped, and none of the agents in the field thought he had been hit. All the agents and supervisors in the field knew there had been a shooting and none of the agents or supervisors filed any written reports. There was no “cover-up” of anything that happened that day in the field, the documentation indicates. The only defect was failure by all to file a written report, including the two supervisors present.
Compean emphasized that the failure to report the incident was considered minor given the outcome:
He (Aldrete-Davila) was already gone back south. I … really didn’t … didn’t think he had been hit. The way I saw him walking back south he looked … he looked fine to us and we just didn’t … nothing was ever said as … as to don’t say anything keep your mouth shut nothing like that was ever … was ever brought up either. We just … we just didn’t bring it up.
Compean’s testimony emphasized supervisor Richards pressured him not to file a written report:
When we got back to the station it was the same thing he asked me and the way … the way I … the way he … he asked me … he made it seemed like he wanted me to say no and that’s why I said it.
By denying he had been injured, Compean made it possible for Richards to avoid the trouble of filing a written report on the incident.
The issue about filing a written report, according to Compean’s testimony, turned on his willingness not to mention the assault. The decision not to file a written report did not turn on wanting to hide the fact that shooting had taken place.
Moreover, Richards was well aware Compean had been injured in a scuffling match with Aldrete-Davila on the levee, when he wrestled the drug smuggler down. Compean did not even realize his hand had been cut until Richards pointed it out to him at the levee.
The Customs and Border Patrol manual mentions that the penalty for failure to report the discharge of a firearm or use of a weapon as required by the applicable firearms policy is a written reprimand, or at most a five-day suspension for the first offense. The manual makes no mention of the possibility of criminal punishment for failure to report the discharge of a weapon.
In a last, more belligerent section of the hearing, Barker charges, “There was a shooting where somebody was shot and NOTHING WAS SAID!” The capital letters were in the original transcript, probably reflecting Barker’s emphasis.
Russell responds, according to the transcript: “That was an administrative violation on his part by not reporting it to the agency, yes, but on the same part the agency failed to act when it knew that an agent had been assaulted.”
Then, Russell himself shouts out, “EMPLOYEES SAW IT,” pointing out seven Border Patrol agents besides Ramos and Compean, including two supervisors, were at the scene.
According to the transcript, the pressure on Compean not to file a written report came from Richards, the senior supervisor on the field.
Richards was applying pressure on Compean not to report the assault, because that would have demanded paperwork.
Moreover, according to the hearing transcript, there is no record Richards ever mentioned to Compean the need to file a written report on the shooting.
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