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Tag: New Mexico

Off-Duty Border Patrol Agent Severely Beaten in New Mexico

border patrolBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A motorist found an off-duty Border Patrol agent on the side of the road in New Mexico on Friday night, severely beaten and left for dead.

The agent, who was assigned to the Deming Border Patrol Station in New Mexico, sustained serious injuries to his head, chest and hands, according to a CBP news release. He was found about 11 p.m. in Dona Ana County, west of Las Cruces.

The agent, whose name has not been released, was rushed to a nearby hospital and was in stable condition.

The FBI, Dona Ana County Sheriff’s Office and the El Paso Police Department are helping investigate.

Another off-duty Border Patrol agent was stabbed in the eye in the El Paso Sector on May 20.

“CBP has informed its workforce of this report and has reminded its law enforcement personnel to be alert and aware of their surroundings and potential threats related to their service,” CBP said in the news release.

Border Patrol Agent Shoots Suspect at Las Cruces Checkpoint

police tapeBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A Border Patrol agent shot a man accused of pointing a gun at agents at the Las Cruces Immigration Checkpoint on I-25 in New Mexico on Sunday.

CBP is investigating the shooting, which happened around 6:15 p.m., the Deming Headlight reports. 

The incident happened after the suspect was undergoing a secondary inspection. Authorities said the man, who has not yet been identified, brandished a handgun and then fired once in the direction of agents.

Agents returned fire, striking the suspect at least once.

The suspect was air lifted to a local hospital in an unknown condition.

Supreme Court Strengthens Qualified Immunity for Law Enforcement Officers’ Use of Deadly Force

By Ross Parker
ticklethewire.com

It was a tough year for law enforcement officers. Line of duty deaths, especially intentional killings of police, were up dramatically. Several categories of violent crime, including homicides, rose significantly after two decades of steady decline in crime statistics. Recruitment of new officers is becoming difficult, and officers confronting deadly situations are justifiably wary about the public (and media) second-guessing life or death decisions that had to be made under pressure within seconds.

Heather MacDonald, in her recent book The War On Cops, blames these developments on an anti-law enforcement movement led by groups like Black Lives Matter, accentuated by media attention, and facilitated by the policies of the Obama Administration. Whether you buy all of her conclusions, she does make a persuasive case that the current atmosphere in some segments of the public about law enforcement has resulted in officers being less aggressive in discretionary policing and that is a factor in a new crime wave, especially in the nation’s cities.

Into this troubling and dangerous situation, a potential boost in law enforcement confidence came this month from an unlikely source, a per curiam opinion by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Per curiam (Latin: by the Court) decisions are judgments by appellate courts as a whole in which no particular judge or Justice is identified as the author. In the Supreme Court per curiam opinions are almost always unanimous and usually represent brief rulings on non-controversial subjects. They tend to be short. They seldom set an important precedent or alter the rule of law.

But there are exceptions. In 1972 the per curiam opinion by the Court in Furman v. Georgia turned capital punishment upside down when it struck down every death penalty law and practice in the country as arbitrary and capricious under the 8th Amendment. It took four years for the states to re-institute death penalty statutes and, in many ways, the case began to diminish the role of the supreme penalty which continues to this day.

Bush v. Gore

In Bush v. Gore (2000) the Court issued a per curiam opinion in one of the most controversial cases in the Court’s history. The Court upheld the razor-thin Florida vote which gave the presidency to George Bush by a single electoral vote over Al Gore. The 5-4 vote followed party lines with the Republican appointed Justices in the majority, but the ruling was brief and unauthored.  Harvard Professor Alan Dershowitz called it the “single most corrupt decision in Supreme Court history,” but others thought it was a profile in courage which preserved the republic.

new_mexico_state_police

Earlier this month the Court decided another per curiam opinion which has gotten much less attention but which could have profound implications, especially to law enforcement officers on the front line. White v. Pauly was an appeal from a civil ruling by a federal district court against New Mexico State Police Officer Ray White, who had shot and killed Samuel Pauley in a police confrontation outside of Santa Fe.

Witnesses had called 911 to report Pauley as a drunk driver. Two police officers went to his residence where he lived with his brother Daniel Pauly in a secluded area to talk with Pauly. They ordered him to open the door.  It was asserted in the complaint that the brothers had not heard the officers identify themselves. The Paulys got their firearms.

A few minutes after the initial confrontation, Officer White arrived at the scene outside of the Pauly residence. The Paulys yelled that they had guns and Daniel fired two shotgun blasts outside the back door. Samuel stuck his handgun outside a window in the front of the house and pointed it in the officers’ direction. All three of the officers took cover, White behind a stone wall. One of the initial two officers fired his gun at Pauly and missed. Officer White fired and killed Samuel Pauly.

In the civil suit the three officers asserted qualified immunity, But the plaintiffs responded that the defense was not available since court opinions in other circumstances had stated that a warning was required before the use of deadly force even under the threat of serious harm. Officer White could not reasonably assume that this warning had taken place before his arrival. The district court agreed and the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the ruling and ordered the case to go to trial. Officer White appealed to the Supreme Court.

The Court unanimously vacated this decision without oral argument in a brief per curiam opinion. Officer White had violated no clearly established law requiring a police officer facing an occupant pointing a firearm at him to identify himself and shout a warning before firing his weapon.

The Court pointed out that qualified immunity for law enforcement officers is important to society as a whole. Pre-existing law must give them fair and clear notice of impermissible conduct in order to invalidate the assertion of qualified immunity. Officer White’s conduct under the circumstances, especially his late arrival after the other officers had engaged the subjects, did not violate clearly established law. He could reasonably conclude in an ongoing police action that proper procedures had already been followed.

The case has been criticized as giving police a “license to kill.” But Supreme Court Justices are aware of the issues of the day. They watch TV. Maybe they are sending a signal that the courts should not second-guess law enforcement officers who have to make split second decisions on the use of deadly force by weakening qualified immunity.

Or perhaps they are just tired of the judiciary being asked to make social policy on confrontations between police and potentially dangerous subjects in the context of law suits against police.

Or maybe, like most garden variety per curiam opinions, the case represents a narrow ruling on a unique set of facts with little or no policy-making implications.

Ken Walton, the Most Flamboyant SAC Ever to Head FBI Detroit Division, Dead at 76

Ken Walton

Ken Walton

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

DETROIT — Kenneth P. Walton, whose career as an FBI agent spanned 24 years, and who was regarded inside and outside the bureau as the most flamboyant person ever to head the Detroit FBI, died late last month in New Mexico after a battle with cancer. He was 76.

Walton, who headed the Detroit FBI from 1985 to 1988, oversaw some key investigations during his tenure in Detroit including a high-profile FBI sting that resulted in the indictments and guilty pleas of a number of crooked Detroit judges from 36th District and Recorder’s courts. After Detroit, he moved on to headquarters and retired in 1989.

“He loved the FBI and was a workaholic,” said retired FBI agent John Anthony, who worked at the time as legal advisor to the Detroit office and press spokesman. “I would usually get in at around 7 a.m. He was there in the office at 5:30 or 6 o’ clock everyday. He had a keen mind for investigations. He knew personnel. He knew who the hard workers were. He was a good organizer.”

Publicly, he had a TV-like image with his full-head of hair, which always seemed perfectly in place, much like the TV character Efrem Zimbalist Jr. in the TV show, The F.B.I.

He was articulate and dapper, often dressing in French-cuffed shirts his wife designed. In the colder months, he would be seen with a trench coat over his shoulders, which earned him the nickname “The Cape Crusader.”

He also wasn’t shy about expressing his views, and he ended up bumping heads with then-U.S. Attorney Roy C. Hayes. He made no secret of his dislike for Hayes.

Ross Parker, a retired federal prosecutor who was chief of the criminal division in the U.S. Attorney’s Office under Hayes, recalled the first time he walked into Walton’s FBI office.

“It was like walking into the Ken Walton Museum,” he said. “There were hundreds of photos of him with well known people and plaques covering every square inch of wall.”

“Non-Bureau law enforcement people did not always agree with his views but you had to admire his confidence and willingness to take a position. An example was the investigation of local judges. While some were ringing their hands over the undercover methods, he was full-steam-ahead and he made some innovative suggestions. He was charismatic, controversial, and did everything with flair.”

Many agents admired him.

“He was a legend,” said retired FBI Agent Terry Booth. “He was old school. Everybody liked him.  He seemed to back the agents and they loved him for it.”

Walton was sometimes criticized for flocking to TV cameras like a moth to light, and having a large ego.

“He was flashy, no doubt about it,” Anthony said.

But Anthony said it was really about getting the FBI publicity.

“He felt the FBI needed to be in the media because the public needed to know what the FBI was all about,” Anthony said, adding:

“You won’t see another one like him.”

Walton was a veteran of the U.S. Air Force.

He is survived by his wife, Charlotte; brother Jim of Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin; and various in-laws and friends, according to the Albuquerque Journal.

Border Patrol Agent Shoots Drug-Smuggling Suspect After Confrontation

border patrol 3By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A physical confrontation with a Border Patrol agent didn’t end well for a suspected drug smuggler Monday morning near the Arizona-New Mexico border, the Arizona Daily Star reports.

The agent shot and wounded the suspect at about 10:45 a.m. in New Mexico

Agents were looking for suspects who fled a vehicle containing drugs when the incident began.

The suspect’s condition wasn’t immediately known, but the person was flown to an undisclosed hospital.

Feds, Tribal Officials Bust Up Meth Trafficking on Reservation with 34 People Charged

Mescalero Apache Reservation, via Wikipedia.

Mescalero Apache Reservation, via Wikipedia.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The DEA and tribal officials cracked down on methamphetamine trafficking on the Mescalero Apache Reservation in southern New Mexico following an 18-month investigation, filing drug charges against 34 suspects, the Las Cruces Sun-News reports. 

The sting dismantled there drug trafficking organizations and led to the seizure of more than 22 pounds of methamphetamine.

The investigation began after an increase in drug-related violent crime on the reservation of 4,000 people.

“Given the disproportionate negative impact that methamphetamine has on our tribal communities, the significance of the results of this investigation cannot be overstated,” U.S. Attorney Damon P. Martinez said. “More than 75 percent of law enforcement agencies that work in Indian Country identify methamphetamine as the greatest drug threat faced by tribal communities.”

A whopping 40% of the violent crimes committed on the reservation involved meth, Martinez said.

Other Stories of Interest

New Mexico Man Sues Border Patrol Over Medical Marijuana Rights

medical marijuanaBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A New Mexico man filed suit against Border Patrol, saying agents are violating the law by refusing to allow him to posses medical marijuana, Las Cruces Sun-News reports.

Raymundo Marrufo filed the federal lawsuit in hopes of getting an injunction against Border Patrol for asking travelers about drugs at border checkpoints.

To obtain his medical cannabis, Marrufo must pass through a Border Patrol checkpoint, where he is asked whether he has any illegal drugs.

“If Marrufo answers ‘yes,’ he is a drug smuggler subject to felony indictment,” the court complaint states.

If Marrufo says no, he could be charged with lying to a federal agent.

“He doesn’t know if his life, for all intents and purposes, is going to end that day,” his attorney, Jason Flores-Williams, said in an interview Tuesday.

In the suit, Marrufo argues that a federal provision makes it illegal for the DOJ to interfere with state statues that allow the “use, distribution, possession or cultivation of medical marijuana.”

“Whether it is a sense of entitlement, indifference or simply ignorance of the law, the court must immediately issue an injunction enjoining the United States Border Patrol from asking questions and conducting searches that violate that Rohrabacher Amendment,” the complaint states.

Federal Lawsuit: FBI Agents Used Excessive Force with 3 Children in Drug Raid

courtroomBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A federal lawsuit accuses FBI agents of using excessive force during a drug raid at a New Mexican trailer where three children were sleeping, the Albuquerque Journal reports.

According to the suit, FBI agents blew open the front door with a stun grenade, causing shrapnel to strike a 10-year-old boy in the head and shoulder. A 12-year-old girl was forced to walk outside on glass, cutting her feet. All three children, including the 9-year-old, were emotionally traumatized, the lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Las Cruces alleges.

The May 2013 raid was part of a pre-dawn bust of 22 suspected drug and gun dealers.

The FBI declined to comment on pending litigation.