A video uploaded to Facebook on Thursday evening shows a Border Patrol vehicle allegedly running over a Native American man on the Tohono O’odham reservation, near Topawa, AZ.
The 40-second video shows the Border Patrol vehicle speeding up as it heads straight towards the man, who has been identified as “Paulo” by friends and family on Facebook. Moments later the Border Patrol vehicle is seen driving away as Paulo falls to the ground. Paulo is then heard saying, “they just ran me over, bro.”
The video was recorded near the Topawa Village in the Tohono O’odham reservation, according to a community alert posted on Facebook. The reservation has made international news in recent years because it includes 75 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border.
Border Patrol agents regularly patrol the reservation but it is unclear why the agent was in that exact location at the time. The community alert claimed the Border Patrol agent was on property owned by Paolo’s family:
The Young Man was standing outside talking on the phone with his older brother when he spotted the Border Patrol agent at an abandoned house that belonged to his Grandma.
He began to film while the Border Patrol vehicle came towards him and sped up as it got closer, hit him, turned on their sirens and fled the scene!
In a statement to a local KOLD anchor in Tucson, Border Patrol confirmed that Customs and Border Protection’s Office of Professional Responsibility is actively investigating the incident:
The United States Border Patrol, Tucson Sector is fully cooperating with the Tohono O’odham Police Department as they investigate a Border Patrol agent involved vehicle incident that occurred late Thursday evening on the Tohono O’odham Nation. Tucson Sector has been made aware of a video taken yesterday on the Tohono O’odham Nation relevant to this incident.
We stress honor and integrity in every aspect of our mission. We do not tolerate misconduct on or off duty and will fully cooperate with all investigations of alleged unlawful conduct by our personnel.
On Facebook, family members said Paulo had been taken to the hospital but that he was released and was at home in stable condition. Officials at the Tohono O’odham Police Department refused to release any information about the incident. The police department forwarded requests to a public relations agency, The Strategic Issues Management Group, where two representatives claimed they were unfamiliar with the video.
This is not the first incident between the Border Patrol and the Tohono O’odham nation. A U.S. Border Patrol agent in 2002 ran over and killed a teenager named Bennett Patricio Jr. on the reservation. Patricio was reportedly lying on the ground when the Border Patrol agent, Cody Rouse, ran over him. A judge in 2006 ruled that Rouse did nothing to breach his duty to act as a “reasonable, prudent person,” according to the Arizona Daily Star.
A woman who identified as Paulo’s sister said on Facebook that her brother was an “enrolled tribal member of a [federally] recognized tribe and a U.S. citizen in this country.”
She asked: “If you can do this to an enrolled tribal member of a [federally] recognized tribe and a U.S. citizen in this country.....how do you really treat the people who do cross thru there?”