Tag Archives: Carlos LaMadrid

Shooting details emerge in civil trials

A memorial for Carlos LaMadrid is displayed along the U.S.-Mexico border fence east of the port of entry in Douglas. Photo by Mamta Popat/Arizona Daily Star archive.

With little information available about most Border Patrol-involved shootings, civil trials offer a rare glimpse into what happens after an agent fires his weapon — as in the case of a teenager shot to death while trying to climb over the border fence.

Carlos LaMadrid

The family of 19-year-old Carlos LaMadrid sued the U.S. government in a civil trial that ended last week. LaMadrid was shot by Border Patrol agent Lucas Tidwell on March 21, 2011 as he tried to climb a ladder to flee into Mexico after a high-speed chase by Douglas police. A judge is expected to make a decision in the case in the next few months.

Without a civil trial, the public typically learns little about agent-involved shootings — Tidwell’s name only came out through the lawsuit filed by LaMadrid’s family. But many details emerged during the trial: For example, Tidwell said he fired at a silhouette because he was under attack by a rock thrower. Vehicles and the ladder were moved immediately following the shooting. And after a agent-involved shooting, Border Patrol supervisors typically arrive almost immediately, and among other things, ask agents a series of eight questions.

The government argued that Tidwell, now stationed in New Mexico, feared for his life as three softball-size rocks were hurled at him, one cracking his windshield, and said LaMadrid was unfortunately in the line of fire.

CONVICTIONS, DISCIPLINE RARE

At least 10 people have died in Border Patrol-related shootings in Southern Arizona since 2010 and another five have been injured.

Nationally, there have been more than two dozen deaths. None of the agents involved have been convicted or publicly disciplined.

Locally, three agents have been criminally charged in more than 20 years, but in all three cases the agents were cleared.

Continue reading at the Arizona Daily Star.

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Civil trial concludes in Douglas border killing

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.

Continue reading at the Arizona Daily Star.