FBI Investigates Shooting of Undocumented Driver by ICE Agents in Tennessee

For illustrative purposes.
Photo: File (AP)

Federal investigators are looking into the shooting of a man without immigration documents on Thursday by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents in a supermarket parking lot in Antioch, Tennessee.

The unidentified man managed to drive away from the scene and later checked in at a local hospital. There, he turned himself in to the FBI and reportedly was released, BuzzFeed News reported. He left the hospital the next day.

From there, the versions of what actually happened are wildly different, depending on whether you’re talking to ICE or locals.

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ICE spokesman Bryan Cox told NewsChannel 5 of Nashville that the shooting occurred during a traffic stop by ICE agents attempting to detain an undocumented man from Mexico for immigration law violations.

Here’s part of that NC5 report:

Cox said the man tried to flee in a white box truck and drove towards the agent. The agent fired two rounds during the incident.

Cox said the individual did stop at some point, but continued even though an agent was in front of the truck. He stressed the immigration officers were doing everyday enforcement and targeted the man who is reportedly a 39-year-old man from Mexico who is in the country illegally. He allegedly had been deported from the U.S. multiple times.

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However, a surveillance video of the incident obtained by the news station poked some major holes in that account. The video shows that the truck was stopped at the time of the confrontation, and the plainclothes ICE officers appear to approach it in two separate vehicles. As the truck pulls away moments later, the officers do not appear to be in danger of being struck, and one is seen raising his arm as if to fire a weapon.

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ICE has asked the FBI to investigate a possible assault on the officers.

Cox said the driver was previously convicted of domestic assault and aggravated child abuse, according to BuzzFeed. County court records show a prior conviction for domestic assault, but not child abuse, a charge that was dropped by prosecutors.

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A lawyer representing the family of the shooting victim told the news site: “The FBI informed me that if there had been sufficient evidence to charge him when he surrendered he would’ve been arrested.”

In a statement published by the site Latino Rebels, the immigrants rights group Movements Including X (MIX) said the following:

On Thursday September 5, 2019, an Immigration Customs and Enforcement agent approached three men in a white work van parked in the Food Lion located in Antioch, TN. The Food Lion parking lot is used as an informal rideshare parking. Neighbors have expressed fear and anxiety over the fact that ICE has escalated a civil matter into the use of deadly force. The MIX denounces terrorizing of community members, using lethal force against our neighbors, and calls on our local elected officials to end cooperation with ICE.

The plain-clothed Immigration Customs and Enforcement agent approached three men in a parked white work van and requested to see IDs without any reported provocation or necessity. Two of the men in the van provided their IDs. However, the third person exercised his right to refuse to show his ID without a judicial warrant. Then the ICE agent fired an unconfirmed number of gunshots at the man who refused to show his ID.

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MIX member Anna Albescu said she had never previously seen ICE agents attempt to use lethal force in a civil matter.

The group’s statement also noted that one of the agents involved in the shooting took part in another incident that made national news in Nashville last July.

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In that confrontation, ICE agents had attempted to detain a man who was sitting with his son in a van parked in a driveway outside their home. Dozens of neighbors and rights activists quickly gathered to protest, and after a four-hour standoff, they formed a human chain to help the father and son exit the vehicle and enter safely into their home.

The ICE officers, unaided at the time by Metro Nashville Police officers at the scene, eventually left.

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Nashville’s Democratic mayor, David Briley, called Thursday’s shooting “unacceptable” and blamed the “federal government’s inability to arrive at comprehensive immigration reform.”

Briley said the Nashville Police Department is unaware of any criminal complaint against the victim.

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“Our top priority remains the safety and well-being of all residents in Nashville,” he tweeted on Thursday.

Earlier this week, Briley told city attorneys to investigate ways to challenge Tennessee’s anti-sanctuary-city law, the Associated Press reported.

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