WASHINGTON (AP) — President George W. Bush has commuted the prison sentences of two former Border Patrol guards whose convictions for shooting a Mexican drug dealer ignited debate about illegal immigration.
Bush’s act of clemency on Monday for Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean was a victory for Democratic and Republican members of Congress and others who pleaded with the president to pardon the men or at least commute their sentences.
Ramos and Compean are each serving sentences of more than 10 years for shooting an unarmed illegal immigrant as he was fleeing an abandoned marijuana load in 2005, then trying to cover it up.
The headline of the AP story is wrong - it wasn’t a pardon.
The imprisonment of Ignacio Ramos and Jose Alonso Compean had sparked outcry from critics who said the two were just doing their jobs. They had been sentenced to 11- and 12-year sentences, respectively.
Their prison sentences will now expire on March 20 of this year.
I read that they didn’t qualify for a pardon, but would qualify for having their sentences commuted because even the prosecution in the case thought their sentences were “harsh”. Although the courts hands were tied. *Having been found quilty of discharging a firearm during a crime of violence, it carries a mandatory-minimum ten-year jail sentence which must, by statute, be imposed in addition to the sentence of incarceration on any other count of conviction. It is Congress that enacted this law — not the Justice Department. *
I am glad to see the sentence commuted. The did deserve some punishment for the actions subsequent to the shooting, but the man shot was a fleeing felon and the statute they were convicted under was thin. Fortunately, the prosecutor who brought the case is now under investigation for *his *actions. What many do not know is that another drug smuggler went scot free in consideration for his testimony. What in the world is wrong with this country?
Tennessee v. Garner–you can’t shoot someone simply because they are a “fleeing felon”. I don’t know the specifics of the border guards’ case, but if that was their reason for shooting the man, then shooting him just because he was a fleeing felon is not justified.
I didn’t say you could. I am just pointing out that he was fleeing. They have the right to pursue. If they perceive a danger to life they can shoot in what they perceive self-defence (he was going for his cell phone) or if they believe the public to be in danger (a gunman fleeing into a public building).
What I can’t believe is that they cut a deal with a dope dealer so they could convict the border guards. It shows that the AG does not have the interest of the public at heart, but rather only politically expediency.
What I would like to have seen done is to convict them on the evidence they have on the lesser charge and not put another dope dealer on the street. But that would have not gotten the federal prosecutor his brownie points for convicting the border guards.
Like I said, I don’t know any specifics about this case (didn’t know about him reaching for his cellphone). I guess I misunderstood what you said in your previous post. I thought you were arguing the “fleeing felon” thing, which used to be the law before the Tennessee v. Garner decision.
So if the guy was reaching for something while they were chasing him and they perceived it to be a weapon, that is not have been something they should have been able to be prosecuted for. Sounds like they covered something up, though, so that makes the whole situation look worse, even if the initial shooting was justified.
Basically the illegal came over the border with drugs. The two border guards stopped him. They search his car and find drugs. The guy fires at them, and they shoot back…just wounding him. The guards were found guilty of doing an illegal search on an illegal alien. The illegal was …let go…and the guards were jailed.
In 2007 the same illegal was caught smuggling over 750 lbs of marajuana into this country. Somehow, he didn’t get released on a technicality this time.
Since it’s hard to decipher the facts amid the noise, it’s worth remembering that a jury of twelve impartial Texans convicted the agents of almost all the charges, beyond a reasonable doubt, after a two-and-a-half week trial.
he preponderance of the evidence established that Aldrete-Davila was unarmed. Besides Compean and Ramos, there were several other agents on the scene. None of them believed Aldrete-Davila posed a threat to their safety; none, other than the two defendants drew their weapons; and Compean and Ramos neither took cover nor alerted their fellow agents to do so.
More to the point, Compean admitted to investigators early on that the smuggler had raised his hands, palms open, in an attempt to surrender. This jibed not only with Aldrete-Davila’s account but with that of another Border Patrol agent. Compean opted not to take surrender, not to place the smuggler under arrest so he could be prosecuted.
On that score, for those over-heatedly analogizing the border to a battlefield, it is worth noting that even under the law of war, quarter must be given when it is sought. Compean, to the contrary, tried to strike Aldrete-Davila with the butt of his shotgun. But it turns out the agent was as hapless as he was malevolent. In the assault, he succeeded only in losing his own balance. The smuggler, naturally, took off again, whereupon Compean unleashed an incompetent fuselage — missing Aldrete-Davila with all fourteen shots.
It was only after the surrender attempt that Ramos opened fire as the unarmed smuggler neared the border. Defending his decision to bring the case, U.S. attorney Sutton later explained: “Border Patrol training allows for the use of deadly force when an agent reasonably fears imminent bodily injury or death. An agent is not permitted to shoot an unarmed suspect who is running away.” The fact that Aldrete-Davila was a drug-dealer — something the agents may have suspected but had not yet confirmed at the time they were shooting at him — did not justify the responsive use of potentially deadly force under standard law-enforcement rules of engagement.
Granted, there will always be the spin doctors…This article is dated but I believe these facts are indisputable:
Any thoughts that the U.S. Justice Department and U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton were sincerely seeking true justice with the prosecution and conviction of former U.S. Border Patrol Agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean have been thoroughly exposed as blatantly disingenuous by the recent revelation of Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA).
Readers who are following this unbelievable case know that Rep. Rohrabacher is scheduled to conduct congressional hearings today regarding the Ramos and Compean affair. I am confident that Rohrabacher will focus much of the committee’s investigation on the illegitimacy of the Justice Department’s star witness, Mexican drug-runner Osvaldo Aldrete-Davila, and the possibility that the Mexican government was involved in our country’s prosecution of the two Border Patrol agents.
Congressman Rohrabacher obtained copies of Department of Homeland Security (DHS) border pass cards issued to Aldrete-Davila via a Freedom of Information Act request. What he discovered is proof beyond all doubt that the prosecution of Ramos and Compean was illegitimate and that the two agents should be immediately released.
Rohrabacher discovered that Aldrete-Davila was, at the time he was granted border pass cards by the DHS, already involved in an active drug cartel. Beyond that, Aldrete-Davila brought a “second load” of over 700 pounds of marijuana into the United States after receiving his border passes.
Remember, Ramos and Compean were convicted on the strength of the testimony of the drug smuggler, Aldrete-Davila, who had been granted complete immunity from prosecution for his testimony against the two agents. The case ultimately came down to the word of an illegal Mexican drug smuggler against the word of two Border Patrol agents, one of whom (Ramos) had been nominated for Border Patrol Agent of the Year in 2005 (the same year he was indicted). Sutton convinced a jury to believe the drug-smuggler. This is a decision many of the jurors now regret, by the way.
Are you putting all this together? U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton ignored the fact that Aldrete-Davila had been caught smuggling drugs a second time before giving him immunity and proceeding with his testimony against Ramos and Compean. Of course, all of this was kept from the jury. By any standard of justice, this would constitute grounds for complete dismissal of all charges against Ramos and Compean.
In today’s congressional hearings, Rohrabacher will also focus on the fact that the Justice Department did not decide to prosecute Ramos and Compean until after receiving a demand from the Mexican Consulate that the two agents be punished for wounding the Mexican drug dealer.
Remember, too, that the physician who removed the bullet-fragment from Aldrete-Davila’s leg testified that the bullet placement was not inconsistent with someone who might be in a position to fire a weapon at the agents. This means the drug dealer was not shot in the back as Sutton claimed. In other words, the only word we have that the drug dealer was unarmed is the word of the drug dealer. The agents said they believed they saw a weapon.