US Border Patrol agent died of head injuries, autopsy says

11 February, 2018, 05:35 | Author: Bert Pena
  • FBI No evidence collected supports existence of scuffle or attack in BP Agent death

U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said Thursday that the results of an FBI investigation into the death of a Border Patrol agent who died late a year ago should serve as a cautionary tale against jumping to conclusions.

The FBI opened an investigation into a possible assault on a federal officer after Rogelio Martinez and his partner, Stephan Garland, were injured while on patrol in a remote area off Interstate 10 near Van Horn in West Texas the night of November 18. President Trump and other officials held up his death as example of the dangers faced by the Border Patrol and as another reason to build a wall on the U.S. -Mexico line. When colleagues discovered them, they were taken to a nearby hospital and then flown to a larger hospital in El Paso, where Mr. Martinez died the next day. But Garland is still recovering and has trouble remembering what happened, according to Lee Smith, a spokesman for the local Border Patrol union who met with Garland after the incident and said he declined interviews with the news media. Agent Martinez and his partner were on patrol near Van Horn Texas about 120 miles east of El Paso.

"From the beginning we were radioed to assist in the incident as an injury, not an assault", he said.

The FBI's findings came out after months of speculation over what happened to Martinez and fellow agent Stephen Garland, who was also injured but survived.

But Ms. Ochoa said that in the days before he died, Mr. Martinez had been complaining of headaches and neck tension. Garland's head injuries has wiped this memory of the incident.

Martinez's injuries included fractures to his skull, right jaw, upper ribs and his right collarbone, according to an autopsy report released by the El Paso County Medical Examiner's Office.

Despite the FBI's conclusion that there's no evidence of an attack, the Border Patrol union still believes the agent's injuries were the result of an attack.

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But an update from the FBI on its investigation complicated the picture.

Culberson County Sheriff Oscar Carrillo, one of the first responders to the scene, told the Dallas Morning News he thought the agents could have been sideswiped by a tractor-trailer traveling along the darkened interstate.

In December, agents were chasing a tip that two undocumented brothers, suspected drug smugglers, had attacked the agents, according to a search warrant filed unsealed in New Mexico. The office said that the cause of those injuries remained a mystery. "Our view is he was attacked", he told CNN, referring to the FBI's investigation. The investigation, to date, however "has not conclusively determined" how the two agents ended up at the bottom of the culvert - a tunnel structure used for water drainage - according to Emmerson Buie Jr., the special agent in charge of the FBI's El Paso division. "Our view hasn't changed". As part of this effort, the FBI has investigated multiple theories, including whether the Border Patrol Agents were ambushed or attacked or whether their injuries were as a result of an accident or any other relevant criminal activity.

"It says that there is no evidence pointing it to being a struggle", Mr. Cabrera said in an interview. Agent Martinez later succumbed to his injuries.

Cabrera questioned why the agents would have defensive wounds if they were ambushed.

The FBI continues to offer their reward of up to $50,000 for whomever can provide information to help close the case.

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