U.S. Customs and Border Protection appears to be modifying its version of what happened Wednesday when an agent shot and killed 20-year-old Guatemalan migrant Claudia Patricia Gómez González near Laredo, TX.
According to initial reports, the unnamed border agent, a 15-year veteran, was patrolling for “illegal activity” in a “culvert” seven miles south of Laredo, The New York Times reported. The official version of what happened next described a group of undocumented immigrants attacking the agent with “blunt objects.” The officer responded by firing at least one shot with his handgun “fatally striking the woman in the head.”
But there was a problem with the story: A local resident, Marta Martínez, witnessed the aftermath and recorded the incident in a cellphone video that has since gone viral on social media. The original description by authorities of what happened seems to have fallen apart, as Gómez, a young indigenous woman from the department of Quetzaltenango who studied accounting and hoped to find work or study in the U.S., was shot in the head while hiding behind a tree.
On Friday, according to CNN, the agency released a different version of events, leaving out the “blunt objects” part and saying only that a group of immigrants “rushed” the officer after ignoring orders to lie on the ground. As Splinter’s Paul Blest pointed out this week, the CBP seems to be in the habit of falsely claiming that undocumented migrants are increasingly assaulting border agents with “projectiles” like rocks, tree branches, and bottles.
In the New York Times report, Martínez, who confronted the officer immediately after the shooting, claimed that she heard a border officer tell three undocumented men who were arrested at the scene: “See what happens? This is what happens with you people.”
The Border Patrol also initially claimed that the officer had “fatally wounded one of the assailants.” But its statement on Friday modified that to only a “member of the group” after the public gained access to Martínez’s video, family photos of Gómez, and witness accounts. The agency also planned to hold a news conference on Friday, but canceled it, CNN reported.
The incident is under investigation by the FBI and the Texas Rangers.
Meanwhile, Gómez’s grieving family and loved ones in both Guatemala and the U.S. are demanding answers.
“We need help from some institution so that the person who killed my niece, that there be justice for that person and that they remove him from his job so that he respects other people,” Gómez’s aunt, Dominga Vicente, told Univision.