Civil Rights Organizations Demand Answers About DPS Shooting Of Unarmed Passengers
Lower Rio Grande Valley Community Gathers To Remember Victims Of Law Enforcement Violence Along The Border
For Immediate Release
Contact: Daniel Diaz, LUPE; (956) 451-6346 or email@example.com
Dotty Griffith, ACLU of Texas; (832) 291-4776 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Elliott Tucker, TCRP; (956) 750-9722 or email@example.com
Near LA JOYA, TX– On Thursday, a coalition of civil rights organizations, including the ACLU of Texas, LUPE (La Unión Del Pueblo Entero), Rio Grande Valley Equal Voice Network, and Texas Civil Rights Project, demanded an investigation by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) into the fatal shooting of unarmed passengers by a DPS sharpshooter who fired from a helicopter in pursuit of a suspect vehicle.
Audio and video of the press conference will be available on the ACLU of Texas website at 4:30 p.m. (CT); also a copy of ACLU of Texas letter to Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw.
Members of the border community gathered afterwards for a vigil to remember the lives of the two Guatemalan fathers who were killed and to pray for the recovery of another man injured during the indiscriminate law enforcement barrage unleashed during the October 25 incident.
The briefing and vigil were held near the site where the shootings occurred, north of the Lower Rio Grande River Valley town of La Joya, at the intersection of FM 2221 (Jara Chinas Road) and Mile 7 Road.
The following press conference quotes may be attributed to:
Terri Burke, ACLU of Texas Executive Director: “We are concerned that the actions of the Department of Public Safety, if accurately portrayed in news reports, suggest a disregard for the safety of residents of border communities whom law enforcement officers are sworn to protect. We worry that fear-mongering about drug violence along the border has created an atmosphere in which law enforcement takes a ‘shoot first, ask questions later’ approach that endangers, rather than protects, all who live here.”
Daniel Diaz, LUPE: “These horrific actions by law enforcement have the potential to destroy the trust that communities must have in law enforcement. At a time when there is a real and present fear of violence, our residents must feel that they can trust peace officers to protect them. Incidents like this, along with the way that DPS blew off the shootings as ‘justifiable police actions,’ severely shake that trust.” He continued, “Finally, I want to add that incidents like this add further emphasis to our continuing call for Congress to enact sensible and comprehensive reforms to our immigration system. If prospective immigrants had a reasonable opportunity to come to this country through legal channels, they would choose that option every time.”
Michael Seifert, Rio Grande Valley Equal Voice Network: “That game wardens and highway patrol officers are engaging in activities properly belonging to Customs and Border Patrol is yet one more, mortally clear, sign of the need for a comprehensive, just and humane immigration reform. The Equal Voice Network supports reform and looks forward to the day when workers looking to support their needy families can safely migrate through our region.
Elliott Tucker, South Texas Civil Rights Project: “DPS wrongly assumed the truck carried drugs, which it did not. Based on that faulty assumption, law enforcement instigated a chase in a rural area, called in a helicopter, and then a DPS sniper in a helicopter shot three men lying in the bed of a truck, killing two. There is no law enforcement use-of-force policy anywhere in the country that would justify the kind of callous killing.”