San Diego Police Must Investigate Fatal Border Patrol Shooting in San Ysidro

Border agents have long history of tampering with evidence and obstructing justice

SAN DIEGO, CA —  The American Friends Service Committee and Alliance San Diego are calling on the San Diego Police Department (SDPD) to conduct an immediate, independent and thorough investigation of a fatal shooting by Border Patrol agents that took place on Friday, October 23 near the Las Americas Outlet mall in San Ysidro.

To be independent, SDPD must conduct its investigation without involvement or interference from federal authorities whose agent is under investigation. That is not currently happening.

The groups sent this letter asking SDPF Chief David Nisleit to “follow the highest standards of a homicide investigation” and warning of the potential of federal agents corrupting the investigation and obstructing justice, as in past cases. In 2010, a dozen agents beat, tasered and tortured Anastasio Hernandez Rojas until he stopped breathing. Not a single agent was ever charged for this crime because the SDPD failed to protect the evidence or secure the scene that Border Patrol, CBP and other federal agents tampered with. Today, the Anastasio Hernandez case sits before the Inter-American commission On Human Rights as its first extrajudicial killing case brought against the United States for failure to properly investigate.

There are already troubling signs that federal agents are becoming involved with the homicide investigation. The first statement made following the incident was from San Diego Border Patrol Chief Aaron Heitke, who is not authorized to investigate the incident of one of his own agents. Furthermore, the San Diego Union Tribune reported that SDPD investigators were on the scene meeting with Border Patrol representatives. Now the U-T is reporting that SDPD is deferring to Border Patrol and its union to determine when to interview the agent involved. That is unacceptable. SDPD has the sole responsibility to investigate and must do so immediately, including interviewing the agent involved and preserving all evidence. 

The American Friends Service Committee and Alliance San Diego issued this joint statement:

“Let us not repeat the mistakes of the past. SDPD needs to ensure that federal agencies and the unions representing their members are not involved in any part of this investigation. In the past, SDPD has given Border Patrol agents access to witness interviews, investigation briefings and information that should not have been shared with an agency whose agents were under investigation. Customs and Border Protection has a long history of destroying evidence, dispersing witnesses and obstructing justice. We call on the San Diego Police Department to protect the evidence and fully investigate this incident.”

About Alliance San Diego

Alliance San Diego is a non-profit, non-partisan 501(c)(3) community empowerment organization working to ensure that all people can achieve their full potential in an environment of harmony, safety, equality, and justice. Our mission is to provide a means for diverse individuals and organizations to share information, collaborate on issues and mobilize for change in the pursuit of social justice, especially in low-income communities and communities of color. We pursue this mission through targeted civic engagement programs and strategic coalitions that focus on specific issues and policy reforms.

About American Friends Service Committee

American Friends Service Committee is a Quaker organization devoted to service, development, and peace programs throughout the world. Our work is based on the belief in the worth of every person, and faith in the power of love to overcome violence and injustice.