Reefer: Commutations for Two Texas Border Patrol Agents

Before leaving the building, Bush today commuted the sentences of two Texas Border Patrol Agents who shot a man in the ass

In what was likely his last act of clemency before turning off the lights and closing the door on his eight years in office, President George W. Bush today commuted the prison sentences of the two U.S. Border Patrol agents convicted of shooting a man in the back and covering up the crime.

Agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Campean were each sentenced to more than 10 years in federal prison in connection with the 2005 shooting of Osvaldo Aldrete Davila near Fabens. According to Ramos and Campean, the pair caught Davila with a van load of pot near the border. Davila fled toward the Rio Grande, yet, fearing that he was armed, they said, they fired upon him, hitting him in the ass. Federal prosecutors were skeptical – for starters, there wasn't any firm connection between Davila and that load of dope. But more disturbing was that Ramos and Campean failed to report the incident and actually took steps to cover the crime, picking up spent shell casings left at the scene. Ultimately the pair was convicted (and their convictions were upheld on appeal), but the story, which should've been about the rogue actions of a pair of federal law enforcement officers, eventually morphed into a story about illegal immigration and how these apparently defenseless agents were trying to stand up against the tide.

Salon's Alex Koppelman wrote a really good story about the case back in 2007. (Koppelman's thoughts on today's commutation news can be found here.)

Bush, perhaps trying to find a safe middle between those who thought the two were heroes and should be pardoned, and those who saw this as a crime, chose not to pardon the two. Indeed, the pair won't be released until March and will be subject to three years supervision as part of the commutation deal.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS POST

Drug War, marijuana, Osvaldo Davila, Jose Campean, Ignacio Ramos

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