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ACLU demands El Paso police release videos from deadly Paisano crash

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KVIA
Scene of a car crash along Paisano in downtown El Paso that killed 7 people.

EL PASO, Texas -- The American Civil Liberties Union of Texas is seeking videos and other documents related to a June 25 crash that killed seven people in a car fleeing Border Patrol agents.

“For too long, the Border Patrol has operated in the shadows and with impunity,” Cynthia Pompa, the advocacy manager of the ACLU of Texas Border Rights Center, said in a statement. “These chases endanger our community, and in this latest tragedy seven people lost their lives, including four El Pasoans. The victims and families of the deceased, as well as the public, deserve an independent, robust and transparent investigation of Border Patrol’s involvement in this tragedy.”

Border Patrol officials said the responsibility for the crash rests with the 18-year-old driver who sped away from Border Patrol agents in Sunland Park after he had picked up a group of people who had crossed the border. 

They said agents pursued the Chevrolet Cruze but broke off the chase as the car came into downtown El Paso on Paisano Drive. However, several witnesses said several Border Patrol vehicles were in close proximity to the vehicle when the driver lost control and slammed into a trailer parked outside a building. Seven people in the car were killed and three others injured.

Shaw Drake, an attorney for the ACLU Border Rights Center in El Paso, sent a Texas Public Information Act request to the city of El Paso on July 17. The request seeks public release of video evidence police gathered during the investigation from cameras that captured events before the crash. The ACLU also is seeking police and dispatch audio recordings related to the crash.

“As the Paisano (Drive) location is a busy traffic area, the ACLU has reason to believe that traffic cameras likely captured at least part of the chase and consequent crash,” Drake said in his request.

Linda Corchado of Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center is representing one of the survivors of the crash.

“My client tells me he can’t sleep, he’s in severe pain and is haunted by nightmares of the crash,” Corchado said in a statement. “Nevertheless, given his vulnerabilities, he’s been detained by ICE during a pandemic and interviewed four times about the incident by local investigators. The public deserves to know what happened to my client and the Police Department should release all recordings to the public.” 

State law gives the city up to 10 business days to provide the requested material or to seek a ruling from the Texas attorney general on whether it can withhold some of all of the material from release. However, El Paso and other local and state governments have invoked a state law that allows for the suspension of some transparency laws, including deadlines, during emergencies like the Covid-19 pandemic. 

The city could seek to withhold release of documents by claiming they are part of an ongoing police investigation. Drake argues in his request that releasing records won’t interfere with an investigation.

“The public is already aware of the crash and the identity of those killed, so releasing footage of or details about the wreck will not hinder any current investigative efforts. Moreover, the ACLU is not requesting any investigative files or memoranda,” Drake wrote.

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El Paso Matters - Bob Moore

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Comments

28 Comments

    1. Remember when the ACLU represented conservative college groups who were banned from speaking on college campuses? Remember when they represented the far right neo-Nazi groups when their parade permits were denied? Leftist organization? Hardly.

      1. when did they defend conservatives speaking on college campuses? When did they defend neo-Nazi’s? I was not aware of these alleged incidents but I’d be glad to be enlightened.

    2. I’d figure the sucklebuster government fed Madmike be all over anything regarding Mexican civil rights. Yes Madmike even illegals have rights, even prisoners have rights, otherwise maggots like you would breed another hitler. Which will never happen again since we are toooooo many. Not these Mexicans! So you are clearly against transparency? Of course, you are a dirty hog.

  1. Only 1 person was at fault and caused this to happen- The driver. No if’s, no and’s, not but’s. The driver. End of story. And if Ms. Corchado’s “Client” (Who by the way is almost certainly one of the illegals, as inferred) hadn’t broken the law and entered the country illegally then he wouldn’t have been there. His own fault, injured through his own misadventure. Again, end of story. But if he wants a payout then take it up with the party responsible, the driver. Hmm, can’t do that? Well then, take it up with the drivers family.

  2. If you’re breaking the law and running away, the running away is a crime in and of itself. I get there’s policies in place for high speed chases in every law enforcement agency but it’s the driver’s fault. The driver killed his passengers while committing a crime.

  3. Border patrol placed US citizens in grave danger through their awful decisions. BP has a helicopter, drones, access to cameras. Luckily only the people in the car died. Chasing people around in congested areas at high speeds is moronic.

  4. A system without checks and balances is no bueno. Madmike, a good ole fashion college basic course would review this with you. Oh wait, no college for the sucklbuster.

  5. According to the deplorables……if you break the law, let’s say you run a stop sign, you no longer have rights? Hmmm, imagine a world with this crap mentality. Wild West and pistolas!

  6. BP was playing Chicken with this kid. Dumb ass BP agents chasing him at 90 mph when they could have radioed to EPPD or another BP unit downtown to stop the car. No protocol followed, just BP agents on a wild goose chase trying to stop a suspicious car at all costs. Easy lawsuit for those who survived, and more training for the BP agents, that is, if they are not charged with a crime.

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