DRJ Pores Through the Border Patrol Trial Transcripts – Conclusion of Ignacio Ramos’ Testimony (Volume XIII):
The prosecution’s cross-examination and Ramos’ attorney’s re-direct examination of Ignacio Ramos concludes in Volume XIII.
From Transcript XIII:
Defense Witness #1 – Ignacio Ramos:
Government cross-examination (by Debra Kanof):
3-4 – Ramos said his job in Fabens was like “a cat and mouse game” but he does not believe taking a life is a game.
4-5 – Ramos did not see any physical contact between the suspect and Compean. He misspoke when he said he did not have talk to Compean on the vega or the levee. Ramos asked Compean if he was okay before he patted him down. That’s all Ramos asked Compean but Compean didn’t respond because he was in shock.
5 – Ramos did not see the driver throw dirt in Compean’s face but he told Richards he did because Ramos didn’t think Compean threw dirt in his own face. Ramos told Richards what he assumed happened, not what he made up.
5 – Ramos is a sharpshooter, not an expert shot. Expert is a perfect score and Ramos had a 96 so that means he is a sharpshooter.
6 – Ramos denied that he only shot once at the driver because he knew he had hit him with his first shot.
6-7 – Ramos left the station because he believed there was marijuana in the vehicle Compean called out and he wanted to catch the load. Ramos knew there is alien smuggling in Fabens but he thought this was marijuana because Compean had called out a 10-46 code. Ramos understood a 46 code referred to narcotics smuggling. [Ramos refreshed his recollection using a list of 10 codes that showed 10-46 refers to “narcotics apprehension.”] Ramos agreed the code stated the narcotics had already been apprehended.
7-8 – Ramos didn’t know for sure it was drugs, cocaine, or heroin.
8-9 – The speed limits from the stoplight in Fabens down Jess Harris Road to the ditch change several times. Ramos isn’t sure how fast he went over the first bridge he crossed after leaving Fabens, but he doesn’t think it was as fast as 40 mph because his truck couldn’t pick up speed that fast. Ramos is not sure how fast he was going or what the speed limit is in that area.
9-10 – The speed limit on the S curve is 10 mph. There is a school bus loading sign in that area. Ramos is not sure what the speed limits are on the other parts of the road. The speed limits matter to Ramos because he follows the rules, although he was speeding that day.
10 – Ramos did not request permission for an exceed-the-speed-limit pursuit because they do things different in Fabens, and it’s different than other stations. Ramos has only been stationed at Fabens but he knows it’s different because he spoke with agents from other stations. Ramos characterized it as a different interpretation.
10-11 – Ramos never reported to Chief Barker so he never told him they do things different in Fabens.
11-12 – Ramos knows that every agent testified Richards is a stickler for rules but he also knows what he’s observed at Fabens. Ramos doesn’t have a memo from a supervisor that says they do things different in Fabens. Things have been done that way in Fabens since Ramos first got there.
“Q. And at what point in your career did things start being done different in Fabens?
A. I wouldn’t say they started being different. I would say, since I got there, that’s the way they were done.
Q. Really. In 1996 you were in a shooting incident, correct?
A. Yes, ma’am.
Q. Well, you’re testifying to this jury things are done different in Fabens, and they’ve always been done differently in Fabens, correct? Isn’t that your testimony?
A. I wouldn’t say always, but —
Q. Well, you just said always. Now you’re not going to say always?
MS. STILLINGER: Objection, Your Honor. I’m going to object to saying “things,” without specifying what things, because I think there’s a great potential to confuse the witness.
MS. KANOF: Your Honor, it’s his word. I’m just using his word.”
[NOTE from DRJ: Actually, as shown above, “things” was the prosecutor’s word. Nice try, though, especially since it worked. Here’s the Court’s response:
“THE COURT: All right. Well, I will only instruct you, Mr. Ramos, if at any point you don’t understand something, then you need to tell her you don’t understand. All right?
THE WITNESS: Yes, ma’am.
THE COURT: If you answer the question, everyone is going to assume you understood what it was.
THE WITNESS: Yes, ma’am.”]
11-12 – Ramos reported his 1996 shooting incident by calling it out on the radio.
13-14 – Ramos believed he called out “Shots Fired” over the radio during the 1996 shooting. [After refreshing his recollection with a document that was not provided to the defense prior to trial because “it wasn’t discoverable”:] Ramos agreed that he actually called out “Fire, Fire” over the radio during the 1996 shooting. [The prosecution did not have a copy of the document to give to the defense, so the Court ruled the defense could view it after the cross examination was completed.]
14-15 – In the 1996 shooting, Ramos was talking over the sector communications because it was transcribed. Ramos doesn’t know if it was done for the shoot investigation because this is the first time he’s seen this document. Ramos’ supervisor at the time was Edward Russell and his name is in the transcript. [The defense objected to the prosecution’s efforts to have Ramos read from the document. The Court did not rule before the prosecutor continued.]
15 – Ramos was not speaking with his supervisor on the radio that day. Instead, Ramos was calling out because he was by himself. Ramos did not hear anything that was said after “Fire, Fire” because he was returning fire, so he does not know if his supervisor spoke to him.
15-16 – Ramos had a handheld [radio] in 1996 and had to stop and call in because he was by himself. He didn’t have to call in on February 17 because he had back-up.
16 – Agent Hertzberg was on the scene in 1996 but he didn’t arrive until a few minutes later, as noted in Ramos’ report of the incident.
16-17 – Ramos was made to write a report of this incident. [The prosecution asked if Ramos was made to write a report because someone at Fabens was following the rules. The Court sustained an objection to this question on the basis it calls for speculation.] Ramos disagreed that writing a report is consistent with the BP shooting policy, noting that if he knew then what he knows now, he wasn’t supposed to write a report.
17 – Ramos’ supervisor, Russell, knew about the 1996 shooting because Ramos called it out on the radio. Ramos didn’t call out “Fire” on February 17.
17-18 – Ramos never heard anything about the 1996 shooting again but paperwork shown to him by the prosecution suggests there was an investigation that he never knew about and that he was exonerated. Ramos reported the 1996 shooting if “[b]y reporting, if you say Mr. Russell knew, then, yes, he knew.”
18 – Ramos thought Richards knew about the shooting on February 17 because he heard people talking about shots fired when he came back to the north side. [The Court sustained a defense objection to the prosecutor’s statement that, in his direct testimony, Ramos didn’t say he heard people talking about shots fired and the prosecutor’s subsequent question, “Did you just remember that overnight?”]
18-19 – Ramos didn’t say anyone reported the shooting to Richards, only that Ramos heard somebody talking about shots being fired:
“Q. But the shooting policy requires a report made by the shooter or someone who sees the shooting within one hour, correct?
A. I believe or anybody who hears the shots.
Q. Oh. Would it refresh your memory to see the policy?
A. Yes, ma’am.
Q. Let me find the page for you. Do you want to review it? If it will assist you, it’s on page 17 of 64.
Q. Number 11A.
A. Yes, ma’am.
Q. Isn’t it true that anyone who participates in or observes a reportable shooting incident must report it orally within an hour?
A. Yes, ma’am. That’s what it says.
Q. It doesn’t say somebody who just knew about it or heard about it, does it?
A. No, ma’am.”
19-20 – Immediately after the 1996 shooting, Ramos decided he wanted to be a firearms instructor. He went to 2 weeks of instruction and graduated in December 1997. He was an instructor until 2001 or 2002. Ramos was an instructor for 5 years and he taught the shooting policy, but he doesn’t presume to know the whole policy – it was lengthy. He did not follow the policy on February 17, 2005.
20-21 – Ramos saw a van traveling north towards Fabens on the road that turns into Jess Harris. He saw Juarez behind the van going north into town. The van turned left at the light, and Ramos assumed the van made another left and then a right. Ramos saw the first left but made a U-turn at the light and waited.
21-22 – Before he made the U-turn, Ramos was facing south.
22-23 – The van passed Ramos and then Juarez passed Ramos. Ramos first saw the driver when he first encountered the van and Juarez was behind the van. Ramos saw the driver from the shoulder up and described him as “Hispanic male, mustache, dark hair” and a “young man.”
23-24 – When the van passed Ramos going south, Ramos cut in behind the van because Juarez stopped at a stop sign. Juarez followed the traffic sign. Ramos saw Juarez look at him and Ramos took it as hesitation on Juarez’s part. Juarez is younger than Ramos.
24-25 – Ramos may have told other BP agents that “I don’t do aliens, I just do drugs.” He has a reputation, based on his words, that he likes to catch narcotics but it’s isn’t true that he doesn’t like to catch aliens. Ramos often doesn’t know if the smuggler has aliens or narcotics.
25 – Ramos agreed that the primary mission of the BP is illegal immigration and then antiterrorism, and that the BP has no original authority for drug investigations.
25-26 – Ramos agreed that Juarez testified he planned to make an immigration stop. Ramos disagreed that he wasn’t going to make an immigration stop. He was, so he could check what was in the van. Ramos testified he wanted to catch the load because Compean had already stated he thought it was a 46 and Ramos trusted Compean’s judgment. Ramos worked with Compean 5 years and trusted him.
26 – Ramos left Compean on the ground even though he thought Compean was shot because he couldn’t help Compean if the threat was still there. “Two agents down can’t help each other.”
26-27 – Alien smuggling also occurs at sensor 76. Based on his experience, Ramos initially believed this incident involved marijuana but he couldn’t be 100% sure without looking in the windows. Ramos did not have an opportunity to look in the van’s windows before he started chasing it.
“Q. Your experience doesn’t tell you that vans that look just like that have carried loads of aliens, also?
A. Not when they run from us the way he did.”
27-28 – Ramos heard Arnold’s testimony that he heard Ramos say he was going to light up the van, meaning he was going to turn on his emergency lights. Ramos also heard Arnold testify that he heard Ramos say he was turning the lights off and was going to follow to see what happened, but that wasn’t Ramos because Ramos didn’t say that. Ramos didn’t hear anyone else say they were turning their lights on or off.
28-29 – Ramos said lots more on the radio than what was on the transcript. He was “on the radio giving them [the agents] directions of that van the whole time. That’s the only reason they knew where we were going.” Ramos was on the local radio. He didn’t look or pay attention to what channel he was on.
29-30 – Ramos did not announce that he was following the van at an excessive rate of speed on the sector communications channel, nor did he provide identification of his unit pursuing the van. He did not radio sector communications a license plate number of the fleeing vehicle, did not provide the speed and direction of travel, and did not articulate the reason for his pursuit.
“Q. Isn’t it true that you may only follow at an — make a decision to follow a suspect exceeding the speed limit if that suspect is exceeding the speed limit or committing hazardous moving violations?
A. I believe so.”
30-31 – Ramos got pursuit policy refresher training twice a year. He doesn’t recall the date of the last training he had prior to February 17, 2005. Ramos doesn’t presume to know all the policy.
31-32 – Ramos did not call in the license plate number, which would have given him registration information. It would not have told him if the driver was a felon, fugitive, or the van’s owner. At that point “it was moot” because the driver wouldn’t stop so Ramos could verify if he was the owner.
32 – Ramos presumed the driver committed the felony of drug smuggling. The pursuit policy doesn’t allow Ramos to presume what felony the driver committed, and he didn’t know for a fact that the driver had committed any felony.
32-33 – Ramos did not provide a description of the driver to sector. BP agents encounter the same people but Ramos doesn’t think this description would have helped them recognize the driver.
33-34 – Ramos did not provide information about a hazard to sector communications.
“Q. Isn’t it true, in block letters, bolded and underlined, this policy that you refresh yourself on twice a year, says, If a supervisor or acting supervisor cannot be contacted, the high-speed/high-risk vehicle pursuit shall be immediately terminated?
A. I believe it does. I — I can’t see it, but…
Q. But you didn’t give a supervisor an opportunity to even make that decision, correct?
A. No, ma’am.
Q. Because you didn’t call out to sector communications that you were exceeding the speed limit.
A. No, ma’am.
Q. And that’s because you didn’t have an articulable reason of why you were doing it, other than you were going to catch that load, correct?
A. Well, I didn’t believe we were in a high-speed pursuit.”
34-35 – Ramos never filled out a pursuit form as an agent. He did fill out a memo once. [Defense counsel objected because the prosecution had objected to this testimony on direct and was now trying to go into the matter on cross. The Court did not rule and questioning continued.]
35-36 – Agents chase people like this in Fabens all the time. Ramos has done it before. Agents exceed the speed limit if they can get them to turn back south. Ramos has never filled out a pursuit memo. He doesn’t know if it’s because they don’t have to in Fabens, he just hasn’t done one in his tenure there. One time a supervisor was participating [in a pursuit] and gave an authorization.
36 – Ramos didn’t know anything about the van’s driver and could not see into the van from his vantage point [behind the van]. The van could have contained a load with women and children, although Ramos didn’t think so based on his experience.
36-37 – Ramos doesn’t know if there are more juvenile alien smugglers but he has stopped juvenile drug smugglers. Ramos did not know how old this van driver was on February 17 and he didn’t know if there were any passengers in the van.
“Q. Narcotic smugglers frequently bring children with them, don’t they, so they look innocent if they are stopped?
A. I’ve never encountered that myself, no, ma’am.”
37-38 – Ramos was sure there was marijuana in the van because that’s the only drug he’s seen smuggled in 10 years with the BP. Ramos did not know how much was in the van at the time, but he would not expect it to be 10 pounds in a van.
38 – Ramos has never worked in a port-of-entry.
38-40 – Ramos wanted to catch the driver but not at any cost and not regardless of any rule. [After refreshing his recollection with page 12 of the BP pursuit policy,] Ramos agreed that the pursuit policy “is so strong about letting people go” that they address it specifically:
“Don’t you learn that discontinuing a pursuit does not mean giving up, right?
A. That’s what it says there, yes, ma’am.
Q. Don’t you learn twice a year that discontinuing the pursuit is not a reflection of your courage or ability?
A. Yes, ma’am.
Q. And, in most cases, isn’t it true you learn twice a year, if an apprehension is not made quickly and at a reasonable speed, the most intelligent action for an agent is to discontinue the pursuit?
A. Yes, ma’am.
Q. And then aren’t you taught, and isn’t it underlined, this is the professional approach?
A. Yes, ma’am.
Q. But you don’t do that in the Fabens sector?
A. Yes, ma’am. But it also says, it’s possible that a pursuit may be reestablished by pursuing agents or other patrol units or other law enforcement agencies. When they go back south, there’s no other way of reestablishing that. When they go back south, they’re 50 to 100 yards from that river. They’re going to get away.
Q. Oh. So — so, since it’s not possible in this case, you’re going to ignore the policy?
A. It’s not to ignore the policy, ma’am. It’s just to try and get the drug smuggler.”
40-41 – Ramos was 3 car lengths behind the van and the van was not swerving or driving dangerously. Ramos had to slow down on the dirt road for safety so he did not “catch air” – go airborne – and because he couldn’t see for the dust. The van driver could see because there was no dust in front of him. Ramos started braking before he came to the dirt road. The van driver had a clear line of sight and Ramos is sure he could see the dirt road.
“A. He had the clear line of sight. I’m sure he could see it.
Q. You’re sure of it?
A. He could see everything else that was in front of him, from Fabens all the way down there. He had to have seen that.
Q. Just like you’re sure that he threw dirt in Mr. Compean’s face?
A. I’m pretty sure of that.”
41-42 – Ramos saw the driver get out of the van and go in the ditch. Ramos glanced at Compean but he didn’t see Compean point his weapon at the driver. Ramos’ attention was focused on the driver, not Compean. Ramos lost sight of the driver as he entered the ditch, so he ran up to the edge of the ditch. Part of the driver was obscured as he entered the brush and water in the ditch. Ramos’ experience is there is lots of brush in the ditch in February and in June because they don’t mow the brush. Some of it turns brown and dies in February.
42-44 – The ditch is steep. Ramos had to use his hands to get out and so did the driver. Ramos didn’t see anything in the driver’s hands as he climbed out of the ditch but he couldn’t see everything about the driver. He mainly saw his torso.
43-44 – Ramos taught defensive tactics as a BP instructor. Defensive tactics teach to look at the hands and body language. The hands tell if they have something in them but they don’t tell intent.
44-46 – Ramos didn’t hear anyone yell “Hit him. Hit him.” Ramos testified earlier that there were other agents behind him who were yelling. Agents behind Ramos had a clear view of the Compean and the back of the driver.
46-47 – Aldrete-Davila must have been right when he said agents had their guns pointed at him. Ramos had his gun drawn but it wasn’t pointed at Aldrete-Davila. Ramos had his gun in ready pistol position [indicating]. Aldrete-Davila might have thought Ramos had his gun pointed at him as Ramos stood on the side of the ditch and watched.
47 – Ramos heard reinforcements arrive but he couldn’t hear clearly what they were yelling.
47-48 – Ramos did not hear Aldrete-Davila say “No me pegues [Don’t hit me]” or “Take it easy, man.” Ramos didn’t hear him say anything.
48-49 – Ramos was yelling at Aldrete-Davila to stop but he ignored the commands. “Well, we wanted him to stop. I mean, I — I didn’t want to get in that water. That’s why I didn’t jump in right away. If I was able to coax him back to the north side of the ditch, I would have. *** I wanted him to stop. Had I gotten him to stop, then I would have given him commands to come back to the north side of the ditch.”
49 – Ramos saw Compean with a shotgun but Ramos didn’t see Compean point it at Aldrete-Davila. Ramos didn’t see Compean turn the shotgun around because his focus was on the threat, Aldrete-Davila. Compean was not a threat.
50-51 – Ramos did not see Aldrete-Davila raise his hands except to get out of the ditch. Compean, Juarez, and Aldrete-Davila said OAD’s hands were raised but Ramos did not see that.
50 – Ramos and Juarez were not standing next to each other. Ramos never saw Juarez [at that time].
50 – Ramos believed the driver had narcotics in the van.
50-51 – Aldrete-Davila said one of the agents that pointed a gun at him had glasses. Ramos had contacts on that day, not glasses. [The prosecutor showed Ramos GOV EXH 12, a photo of Ramos looking in the back of the van.] Ramos couldn’t tell if he was wearing his glasses in that picture.
51-53 – Ramos saw the driver turn to look at Ramos and then make a move on Compean. “Make a move” means trying to get away, not trying to attack Compean. It wasn’t a threatening move. The driver might have been trying to get back south at that point.
53 – Ramos did not tell Richards the driver made a back-and-forth move. Those were Richards’ words. It’s hard to move that way on the edge of the canal without falling over.
53-54 – Ramos did not see Compean slip and fall and get dirt on his face. Ramos heard Christopher Sanchez testify that Compean said he fell and he also heard Juarez testify that he saw Compean fall.
54 – Ramos did not see Aldrete-Davila take off running. Ramos jumped in the ditch when he saw Aldrete-Davila make a move to go around Compean, and that’s when he stopped watching Aldrete-Davila.
“Q. Okay. The threat, at that point, is gone, isn’t it, Agent Ramos? The guy has taken off.
A. The threat is trying to get away. Agent Compean is by himself. My — my priority there is to get to Agent Compean and help him.
Q. Okay. Well, I’m talking about the perception of deadly threat. There is no deadly threat, once that young man heads towards Mexico, is there?
A. I don’t know that.”
55 – Ramos didn’t see Aldrete-Davila with a gun but his shirt was untucked and Ramos was taught to take precautions when dealing with someone who could have a hidden weapon. Ramos knew his shirt was untucked because he glimpsed it when the driver jumped out of the van. The driver didn’t have a weapon in his hand but he could have had one in his waistband.
56-57 – Ramos crossed the ditch to help Compean because Compean was by himself on the south side of that ditch on the levee, and “that’s an officer safety issue.” There weren’t other agents on the levee yet who could help Compean, because Ramos couldn’t see any. He also didn’t see Juarez, agreeing with the prosecutor that he had “tunnel vision.” Ramos knew he needed to go help Compean.
58 – Ramos didn’t see the driver “hotfoot it back south” [in the prosecutor’s words]. He knew he needed to help Compean when he saw the driver try to get away. Ramos was concerned for Compean’s safety because he was by himself, and he also wanted to help Compean catch the driver. However, Ramos didn’t know what Compean’s intentions were. If Compean “didn’t go run after him, then it was over.”
58-59 – Ramos expected the other agents to follow him across the ditch:
“Q. Okay. All those agents that arrived, you didn’t have the faith that they might not jump in the ditch and go try to help Compean, as well?
A. I sure did. I fully expected them to be right behind me.”
59 – Compean wouldn’t have been alone long if the other agents had followed Ramos.
59 – Ramos agreed that Aldrete-Davila hadn’t hurt anyone at that point and Ramos wasn’t concerned that he was going to hurt anyone. The pursuit policy says “let them go” but Ramos and Compean weren’t pursuing anymore, they were on foot.
“Q. Well, Chief Barker testified that the primary responsibility is agent safety, correct?
A. And that’s why I crossed the ditch.“
59-60 – Ramos believed Aldrete-Davila was trying to go south to Mexico but he also felt that “the closer they are to freedom, the more — the more willing they are to fight.” He was running, not fighting, but they hadn’t caught him yet.
61 – Ramos got out of the ditch and saw the levee. He could not see Compean because he was already gone. Ramos climbed the levee and crossed to the south side of the road.
61-62 – Ramos heard shots when he was in the canal. He heard shots from what he assumed was a gun exchange from more than one gun. It could have been shots from Compean’s gun alone.
62-63 – Ramos has a limited knowledge of firearms, depending on what you’re asking. He is familiar with the sound of a .40 caliber Beretta. The sound of other handguns is similar to the Beretta and he can’t really tell the difference.
63-64 – The casings for a .40 caliber Beretta are supposed to eject to the right and behind, but Ramos’ gun tolerances aren’t very good. Sometimes they fall to the right and behind. “Sometimes they go straight to the right. Sometimes they go back. *** Sometimes they fall short, sometimes they fall long.”
64-65 – Ramos didn’t touch Compean as they walked back, except when he patted Compean down. Compean wasn’t in so much shock that he couldn’t walk by himself. Ramos didn’t see Compean pick up shell casings. Just like he didn’t see Juarez and he didn’t see Compean when he slipped.
65-66 – Ramos does not recall going to the employee assistance program after his  shooting incident or his assault [with the needle]. Ramos wasn’t upset but he did wonder why the US Attorney failed to prosecute the case where he was stuck with a needle.
“Q. Well, isn’t it true that, when you were struggling with him, you got poked because it was in his pocket?
A. It was while I was searching him. But when I was pulling it out, he motioned — he didn’t motion — he slapped away at me.”
66-68 – Ramos filed a memo to the BP agent in charge about the needle incident. [The Court sustained a defense objection to the prosecutor reading the 9/4/2002 memo to Ramos. After refreshing his recollection from the memo:]
“Q. You don’t say that he made a gesture that caused it to happen, right?
I think I highlighted it to assist you.
A. Right. But —
Q. Right, you don’t say that?
A. No. But before, where it’s — where you highlighted it, I do say he became combative and assaultive —
Q. Okay. But —
A. — and striking at his pocket, when it — with his left hand, and striking me with his left elbow on my left shoulder. During this struggle, I felt something in his left pocket poke my left thumb.
Q. You know the elements of assault?
A. I can’t say I know them all, but he did fight me.
Q. Okay. But you were concerned that we didn’t prosecute him for sticking that hypodermic needle in you, right?
A. Yes, ma’am. I had to go through several testings, AIDS, which concerned me most.
Q. But he didn’t stick it in you, did he? It happened as a result of the struggle, correct?
A. Well, I felt that, if he wouldn’t have struggled with me, it wouldn’t have poked me.”
68 – Ramos isn’t still angry about that not being prosecuted, but he does still have to undergo testing.
68-70 – When Ramos got to the vega, he saw Compean “on the floor.” Ramos assumed Compean was shot but he didn’t yell out to Compean asking if he was hurt or shot. The threat was still on the vega. If Ramos stopped to help Compean, he was leaving himself vulnerable. Ramos wasn’t taught to go to the partner before handling the threat. “That means two agents go down.”
“Q. Didn’t — didn’t Chief Barker testify that the single most important thing was the safety of the agent?
A. Yes, ma’am. But I can’t take care of that agent if that threat turns around and hurts me.
Q. Well, you could go and put your body in between that threat and the agent, couldn’t you?
A. And that’s what I did when I ran after him.”
70 – The vega is a dangerous place because you are exposed. Ramos was in danger because the threat was still there. Ramos wanted to catch Aldrete-Davila at that point because, in his mind, Aldrete-Davila had hurt Compean.
70-71 – Compean’s statement as given to C. Sanchez said he was standing and shooting in the vega, but Ramos didn’t see him do that. Compean also said he holstered his weapon and walked back to the levee. Ramos replied that might have occurred after Ramos passed Compean. Ramos isn’t sure what Compean did after Ramos passed him and chased the suspect.
71-72 – Ramos did not call out “Fire Fire” as he did in 1996. He did not call out “Agent down.” He did not communicate to the other agents because he expected them to be right behind him in the vega. Ramos expected one of the other agents to call out what was happening.
72 – Ramos is not a doctor and does not have medical training, but he was willing to testify on direct that Compean looked like he was in shock.
72-73 – Ramos described shooting Aldrete-Davila: Ramos chased OAD down the vega. Ramos ran past the little drag road – 15, 20 feet – and yelled “Parete” and OAD turned around. That’s when OAD pointed something shiny at Ramos. That’s when Ramos shot OAD. At that point, OAD was still on the vega but at the lip of the riverbank. Ramos only yelled Parete one time and OAD only turned one time on the vega.
73-74 – OAD didn’t fall after Ramos shot him and Ramos didn’t think he had shot him. He only shot one time because OAD disappeared into the river after that shot. Ramos did not chase him because there is too much brush to safely follow. The suspect could hide anywhere and would have total advantage.
74 – Ramos stated it’s good to be cautious around the river because of the brush, even in February. The brush may turn brown but it doesn’t wither away or go away.
74-75 – Aldrete-Davila didn’t stop when Ramos yelled Parete. He kept running and turned around to shoot at Ramos. Ramos didn’t know at the time whether Aldrete-Davila was left-handed. All he knows is what Aldrete-Davila did on that day.
75 – Once Aldrete-Davila disappeared in the river, Compean walked up close to Ramos but Ramos kept his eye on the river and his pistol at ready pistol. Ramos and Compean were in the open but Ramos didn’t know if there were other people/threats there. Ramos’ concern was the river because he knew the suspect was there.
76 – Ramos knew standing in the open vega was dangerous, and the brush around the river was dangerous. He knew other people could be there but he waited and watched until the suspect got out of the river and headed back to Mexico. Ramos couldn’t see the suspect for a few seconds while he was in the river.
76-77 – Ramos felt safe after the suspect crossed the river (about 90 feet) and the Mexican levee and was out of sight. At that distance, which Ramos “guesstimated” at about 700 feet, he could not shoot accurately.
77-78 – When Ramos saw Aldrete-Davila get out of the river, he checked Compean and they started walking back. However, Ramos walked bladed (sort of sideways) and never turned his back on OAD completely. Ramos kept checking where he was at, making sure he didn’t turn around. Ramos felt he was still in a dangerous situation.
78-79 – Ramos and Compean watched as Aldrete-Davila crossed to the Mexican side. Ramos heard the testimony that Compean thought Aldrete-Davila was limping and that he told others OAD was limping. [The Court apparently sustained a defense objection to questions about what others testified to.] Ramos didn’t see OAD limping and he didn’t know he shot him. Ramos only shot once because he was gone.
79 – Ramos didn’t shoot when the suspect was in the brush because Ramos won’t shoot if he doesn’t have a target. Ramos knew the suspect was in the river but he didn’t know where.
79 – The river is about 90 feet wide. The vega, river and riverbank are much wider.
80 – Ramos checked Compean and found he wasn’t shot. They watched as the suspect walked (not limped, run, or jogged) back to Mexico. Ramos felt the suspect couldn’t be accurate from the Mexican levee because “I don’t even think I can be accurate at that distance, not with a handgun. That’s why I said he didn’t have a rifle in his hand.” By that time, Ramos and Compean were up on their levee.
80-81 – Yrigoyen and Mendez didn’t arrive until the suspect was past the Mexican levee. They testified they saw him being picked up. Ramos didn’t warn them because the threat was gone.
81 – Ramos did not see Compean picking up casings as he walked to the levee.
81 – Once Ramos crossed back to the north side [of the ditch] and told Richards about the suspect threw dirt in Compean’s face (even though he didn’t see it), he heard Richards call out to Mr. Compean, “Are you okay?”
81-83 – There were 2 supervisors at the scene but Ramos and Compean did not tell them they had discharged their firearms. If they had, Ramos guessed that one of those “thick reports” would have been generated and they would have tried to determine if it was a good shoot.
“Q. And the reason you didn’t report it is because you knew it wasn’t a good shoot?
A. No. I just messed up.
Q. You just messed up?
A. I was just worried about a lot of other things. I was full of adrenaline from chasing him. I was full of adrenaline from being threatened again, from having shot the pistol. I was worried about Mr. Compean. I had a lot of other things on my mind.”
83 – By an hour later, Ramos didn’t report the shooting because he assumed someone else had:
“Q. Well, what assumption is it that you made, again?
A. That somebody else had told him.
Q. But if somebody else had told him, wouldn’t he have come and asked you about it?
A. I guess he would have.
Q. So then you could have made the assumption that somebody hasn’t told him, correct?
A. I guess so.”
83-84 – Ramos thinks his shell casing is still out there. He visited the scene with his attorney a couple of times and he went there alone the Friday before last. He was not looking for his shell casing.
84 – This incident was what the firearms policy calls a reportable shooting. Ramos knows that because he taught it for 5 years. The first thing you are supposed to do is secure the scene but Ramos didn’t do that.
84-86 – Ramos went to sector evidence school in 1999 but he never applied anything he learned and he doesn’t recall the procedures. Not every agent is taught not to touch a crime scene. [The prosecutor asked Ramos if he learned that at Quantico or FLETC, which is FBI training.] Ramos doesn’t recall being taught not to touch a crime scene. Ramos didn’t call the evidence team to come out and didn’t notify sector communications to send a SET team. Ramos prevented all this from happening by not reporting the incident. In addition, there was no scene attendance log created and they did not take GPS coordinates or find any blood, bullets or shell casings. They couldn’t look at the tire marks, put markers by the evidence, or take measurements and photographs.
87-88 – Ramos agreed they could not gather evidence about where OAD ran, or evidence for a marijuana prosecution, or evidence to identify the marijuana transporter.
[NOTE from DRJ: I don’t get this part. They knew there was marijuana in the van. If the BP wanted to track down evidence related to the marijuana smuggling, they could have done so. Ramos’ failure to report didn’t prevent that.]
88 – Ramos agreed that a comprehensive administrative report, to make a determination of whether or not this was a good shoot, was never made in this case.
88-90 – Ramos was trained to shoot at center mass to stop the threat. [The defense objected to the question “And if this was not a good shoot, then you just killed him, correct, if he had died?” and the prosecutor restated the question.] Ramos hit OAD in the buttocks and severed his urethra, but he was shooting at center mass. Ramos was standing as he shot and was not crouched down. His intent was to stop the threat.
90-91 – Ramos did a scene investigation on November 12, 1999, in which he took pictures from a helicopter. His job didn’t involve anything the prosecutor asked him about in the earlier evidence questions. Ramos doesn’t know if they would send a helicopter if Ramos had asked for one. The pictures Ramos took were taken the day after an incident and were not used, so Ramos doubts the BP would have sent a helicopter that day. The only evidence training Ramos remembers is how to take pictures from a helicopter.
Ramos’ redirect-examination (by Mary Stillinger):
91-92 – [The prosecution objected to leading questions about shooting to kill, and defense counsel restated the question.] Ramos was not taught to shot to maim. He was not taught to shoot somebody in the leg to keep them from running or to shoot them in the arm. He was taught to stop the threat by shooting at center mass. Center mass means the torso – from the stomach to the shoulder area – and includes the vital organs. He was trying to shoot a fleeing suspect that he thought was pointing a gun at him in center mass.
92-93 – The prosecutor asked Ramos about a code 46 in the Code Book. The Code Book may say it means “apprehended” but if the agents call it out, to them it means it’s happening or a probable or they saw it. “If I call somebody on the radio, I’ve got a 46, it’s because I’m watching it happen, and that’s what it is.” In his experience, other agents use it the same way.
93 – In Ramos’ experience, area 76 is more commonly used for narcotics.
93-94 – The BP agent’s primary responsibility is immigration but “anything between the ports of entry that comes in does belong to us. Customs doesn’t go out to investigate it. Neither does immigration, at the ports of entry. So anything that comes in between the ports of entry we investigate. And if that means drugs, then that means drugs. *** It’s well known that a lot of drugs come in through Fabens.”
94 – The Mexican side of the border across from Fabens has small towns. There isn’t much traffic, houses, industry or buildings. It’s mostly agriculture with sporadic houses. “You don’t see any type of law enforcement out there. And it’s pretty much owned by the drug dealers.”
94-95 – There isn’t much help from Mexican law enforcement. “There’s various telephone numbers to call for Mexican police, but they respond further from — from the outskirts of Juarez. So, by the time you get any type of response, it’s almost none. And if they do respond, by the time they get out there, you know, you’re looking at an hour or two, best, sometimes.” [The Court sustained a prosecution objection to the answer based on narrative, nonresponsive, and relevance.] Ramos’ experience is that you can’t get assistance from Mexican law enforcement in the manner C. Sanchez testified to. It’s not something he can do on a whim.
95-96 – Regarding why Ramos prefers to catch drug loads:
“Q. And Ms. Kanof asked you if you prefer seizing drug loads versus catching illegal immigrants. Why — why is that?
A. Well, illegal immigrants is just more an administrative level. You’re catching some people on a revolving door. All you’re going to do is get them, process them, send them back to Mexico. You hear about that all the time. And those are the people you hear about coming to look for jobs. So…
Q. And how do you feel about drugs coming into our country?
MS. KANOF: Objection, Your Honor, relevance.
THE COURT: I’ll sus- —
MS. STILLINGER: Your Honor, she — she’s the one that asked him, you know, if he had a particular — I guess interest in seizing drug loads. I think he’s —
THE COURT: All right. I’ll let him answer.
BY MS. STILLINGER:
Q. The question was: How do you feel about drugs coming into our country?
A. Well, if I have a preference, that’s what I want to do. I mean, I still do my immigration duties, because that’s what I’m supposed to be doing out there. On a wide spectrum, am I doing a big part? No. But
me, as a person, me personally, that’s my little part. That’s what I play. That’s what I do. That’s the part I take in my job.
A. That’s the little part I — I take, and that’s what I take pride in.”
96-97 – “To his credit,” Richards likes to catch drug smugglers and “put a body with the load” but some supervisors don’t like it because it adds to paperwork. [The Court sustained the prosecution’s objection to this answer as speculative.]
97 – Ramos doesn’t have a special relationship with Compean. They are co-workers, not partners, and they each ride alone. Ramos called him Joe because the agents refer to each other on a first-name basis. “We work together. We put our lives on the line on a daily basis with each other. So, yeah, we’re on a first-name basis.”
97-99 – Regarding the needle incident, Ramos understood that “forcibly resisting arrest” is assault and that’s what happened when he was stuck with the needle. In that case, they [the US Attorney’s office] did not prosecute the suspect for assault. Ramos has to continually be tested for AIDS and hepatitis because the suspect tested positive for hepatitis C and AIDS. [The Court sustained a prosecution objection to narrative as Ramos continued his answer and cautioned him to wait for the question.]
99 – When Ramos said Compean was in shock, he meant he was afraid.
99-100 – Ramos went to the scene once with his attorneys and that Friday “that you knew about, that I didn’t go with you.” Ramos and his attorneys went there so Ramos could show them the scene, where the drugs came in, and the route they drove. Ramos went out the week before last at the request of his attorney, “You asked me to go videotape myself, to see how long it would take me to get through the ditch.”
100-101 – Ramos thought the suspect had drugs, had committed an assault on Compean, and might have an illegal entry. [The Court sustained a prosecution objection to a leading question.] The suspect was also speeding around town and breaking traffic laws. Ramos believed a crime had been committed because he thought the suspect shot at Compean. Ramos assumed Compean fired for a reason and he had to trust his instincts and judgment.
101-102 – In response to a question regarding why he didn’t secure the scene as a crime scene, Ramos stated that he didn’t think the suspect was hit and he was gone. [The Court sustained a prosecution objection to narrative and cautioned Ramos to listen to and answer the question.]
102 – Regarding the earlier shooting incident report, Ramos had never seen the report before. He did not go to a hearing about the shooting and nobody gave him the results of any hearing. Ramos was not aware a report had been prepared and he was not trying to prevent the preparation of a report like that [in this case].
102-103- Ramos had never seen or heard the radio transmissions or transcript from the 1996 incident before the prosecution in this trial questioned him about them.
103 – If Ramos could go back and do things differently, “I would make sure I would have gone and reported it to [my supervisor], and made sure that everyone heard me.”
Government recross-examination (by Debra Kanof):
103-104 – Ramos agreed the suspect who had the needle Ramos was stuck with was prosecuted for an offense under 18 USC 1326 – illegal re-entry after deportation – but not for an assault on Ramos. Ramos doesn’t know whether there is a higher penalty under 1326 than for assault. [The defense objected to this question but Ramos had already answered.]
104-105 – Ramos didn’t recall if he previously testified he would rather catch drugs, but he thinks he did. He prefers to catch drugs than aliens because they are like a revolving door. Ramos didn’t want to join the DEA or ICE. He wanted to be a BP agent. When questioned why he would chose a job that primarily involves the “revolving door” work he doesn’t like of immigration enforcement, Ramos stated “It’s part of the job. You don’t have to like everything about your job, but it’s part of it.” [The Court overruled a defense objection to this question as argumentative.]
105-106 – Ramos didn’t recall saying that that’s the “part I play” in the cat and mouse drug game, but he meant that his role or job is to go out some days and catch aliens and other days drugs.
106 – Ramos agreed that the shooting policy requires securing of the scene in a discharge of a firearm even if there isn’t a crime. They do that to investigate if it was a good shoot but that couldn’t be done in this case.
107 – [Witness excused.]