STATEMENT OF U.S. ATTORNEY JOHNNY SUTTON REGARDING THE
PROSECUTION OF BORDER PATROL AGENTS COMPEAN AND RAMOS
“For months, there has been a concerted effort by a few to intentionally distort the facts
of the Compean and Ramos case. However, after a trial that lasted two and a half weeks, where
facts were presented and the case was argued, Agents Compean and Ramos were unanimously
found guilty by a jury in the United States Federal District Court. In order to dispel the myths
and set the record straight, I have listed the facts of the case below:
“Agents Compean and Ramos were prosecuted by my office because they committed a
number of serious crimes. They shot 15 times at an unarmed man who was running away from
them and posed no threat. They lied about what happened, covered up the shooting, conspired to
destroy evidence and then proceeded to write up and file a false report.
“United States Border Patrol agents are some of America's most unsung heroes. They
have an enormously difficult job and, at times, they face great danger.
“The law recognizes that agents will make mistakes and the government takes
responsibility for good faith mistakes made in the line of duty. But no agent is given license to
willfully shoot an unarmed, fleeing suspect in the back simply because the job is difficult,
dangerous or important. The job of federal prosecutors is to enforce the laws the best we can. If
law enforcement officers break the law, they have to face the consequences just like anyone else.
Agents Compean and Ramos were unanimously found guilty by a jury in a United States Federal
District Court after a trial that lasted more than two and a half weeks. Both agents told their
stories from the witness stand and had full opportunities to explain their version of events and to
offer their own evidence. The jury heard everything including their claims of self defense. The
jury did not believe their stories because they were not true.
“In this case, the evidence showed that around 1:00 p.m. MT Aldrete, the Mexican alien,
initially ran from the agents, but attempted to surrender with his empty hands raised over his
head after Agent Compean pointed his shotgun at him. When Agent Compean tried to push
Aldrete to the ground with the butt of his shotgun, Agent Compean tripped and fell. Aldrete then
took off running again toward the Rio Grande River and Mexico. Compean chased Aldrete,
firing at him with his pistol 14 times, pausing once to reload and then shoot some more. Agent
Ramos shot once and struck Aldrete in the buttocks. Neither agent made any further effort to
apprehend him. After the shooting, they lied to their supervisors about the shooting, picked up
and threw away the fired shell casings and filed a false investigative report leaving out any
mention of the confrontation with Aldrete.
“If Compean and Ramos truly believed Aldrete was a threat, why did they abandon him
after shooting him? And if they truly believed the shooting was justified, why did they not
report it, leave the scene undisturbed, and let the investigation absolve them? The answers to
these questions are simple. The agents knew that Aldrete did not pose a threat as he fled, they
knew the shooting was unjustified and unlawful, and they knew an investigation would
incriminate them. So they chose to cover up their crimes.
“In America, law enforcement officers do not get to shoot unarmed suspects who are
running away, lie about it to their supervisors and file official reports that are false. That is a
crime, and prosecutors cannot look the other way.”
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