Determining if a Border Patrol agent was justified in killing a Douglas teen in 2011 might come down to whether there were rocks being thrown from across the border at the time, making the agent fear for his life.
The bench trial in the fatal shooting of Carlos LaMadrid by Border Patrol agent Lucas Tidwell ended Tuesday after nearly seven days of testimony before U.S. District Judge James Soto.
Neither the Department of Justice nor the Cochise County Attorney’s Office filed criminal charges against Tidwell, citing lack of evidence to prove he didn’t shoot in self-defense. But LaMadrid’s family sued the federal government for what they consider to be unjustified use of force.
LaMadrid, 19, a U.S. citizen, was killed on March 21, 2011, as he climbed a ladder over the border fence to flee into Mexico following a high-speed chase by Douglas police. Officers were responding to reports of a gold Avalanche loaded with bundles of marijuana. A bag with 48 pounds of marijuana was found in the truck.
The government says Tidwell was being attacked by rock throwers and LaMadrid was in the line of fire. Even if the agent was negligent — something David Wallace with the U.S. Attorney’s Office said he does not think was the case — the government is not liable because the agent’s use of force was justified given the circumstances.