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Butchís Brew
By Butch Meriwether
The subjects of this blog will be diversified, sometimes cute or funny and hopefully, will address interesting subjects. However, there may be times when I believe a particular subject needs to be ďchampionedĒ and addressed. I hope my blogs will inform, inspire emotion and to cause people to think. If you want to contact me other than through comments to my blogs, I can be reached by emailing me at butchsbrew@frontier.com.
Friday, July 27, 2012

A life was cut short because of possible overzealousness of the U.S. Border Patrol

Butch Meriwether

A Golden Valley Fire Department firefighter picks up his equipment as a Mohave County SheriffĀfs deputy views the wreck vehicle.

Photo Coutesy of GVFD

The single-vehicle accident occurred last year on North Colorado Road in Golden Valley. A car with nine occupants overturned numerous times killing one and sending eight others to the hospital.

Two vehicles were possibly involved and one of them, a government vehicle, may have been the direct cause of the Oct. 27, 2011 accident, but there isn't any actual proof the two vehicles actually made contact with each other.

It isn't known if the driver of the U.S. Border Patrol vehicle performed a Precision Immobilization Technique (PIT) maneuver on the 2006 Chevrolet Equinox. But if the agent did, that could have been the direct cause of the accident and the subsequent death of a human being.

The PIT maneuver is one of the methods available for officers to end pursuits. However, it is not often taught or employed by very many law enforcement agencies due to perceived danger and liability issues. In the PIT maneuver, one car can force the pursued vehicle to abruptly turn sideways to the direction of travel (normally in a counterclockwise direction), causing the driver to lose control and stop.

According to the Border Patrol investigation report and based upon the accident investigation by Mohave County Sheriff's Office (MSCO), it was determined the Chevrolet was traveling between 79 and 87 mph at the time of the accident. The vehicle began rotating in a counterclockwise direction, yawing (sliding sideways) for about 280 feet prior to leaving the roadway. The vehicle then overturned numerous times over a distance of about 120 feet after the vehicle's tires dug into the soft dirt alongside the roadway. The counterclockwise yawing is typical of a vehicle hit in the PIT maneuver. PIT maneuvers are only supposed to be done at a maximum speed of 35 mph.

Only the occupants who survived the rollover accident and the agents involved know exactly what occurred and if a PIT maneuver was initiated. We also know the two agents refused to talk with the media or the MCSO.

To add to the mystery of what actually occurred, the agents involved did as their superiors and the lawyers for the agents' union allegedly instructed them to do - they 'lawyered up" and refused to talk with the MCSO deputies who where tasked with investigating the accident. This makes me suspect they are hiding something.

MCSO Sgt. Donald Bischoff, who first responded to the accident scene, asked the two agents involved in the pursuit to wait for the county Accident Investigation Team to arrive to take their statements, but a Border Patrol supervising agent instructed the two agents to return to the USBP Blythe Station and for them not to give statements to MCSO until a later time. According to Bischoff, the MCSO is still waiting for the statements nine months later.

It took a Freedom of Information Act request from me and almost two months of various excuses from the USBP Headquarters why the request wasn't fulfilled in a timely manner and within the federal guidelines. Government agencies are required to at least send a letter confirming the request within 20 days. I guess they utilize a different calendar than I do because 20 days doesn't equate into almost two months.

For those who are unaware, the FOIA is a law ensuring public access to U.S. government records. FOIA carries a presumption of disclosure; the burden is on the government - not the public - to substantiate why information may not be released. Upon receiving a written request, agencies of the U.S. government are required to disclose those records, unless they can be lawfully withheld from disclosure under one of nine specific exemptions in the FOIA. This right of access is ultimately enforceable in federal court. To read the entire text of the FOIA law, visit http://www.justice.gov/oip/foia_updates/Vol_XVII_4/page2.htm.

The USBP investigation report finally arrived in my mail box after moe than two months and I immediately realized they had not provided me with all of the documents and records I had requested. I am not sure if they were just remiss in not providing all of the requested documents and material or if it was a calculated maneuver to not disclose everything.

I am a big supporter of law enforcement and I don't make the following statement lightly. After reading the Border Patrol Investigation package provided to me, I noticed some disturbing information. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to realize the report contains misinformation, omission of facts, inconsistent statements and, possibly, lies.

Here are some of the inconsistent and nebulous statements by the USBP and what I find disturbing factors about their investigation report:

• The USBP agents were parked on Beale Street in Kingman near Interstate 40 observing vehicle traffic driving through the commercial area. It appears the Border Patrol agents were probably conducting the illegal profiling of vehicles that passed their location. According to the report, they noticed a vehicle that displayed many similar characteristics of an illegal alien load vehicle, but didn't spell out what characteristics they observed in the report. A normal profiling includes vehicles with Hispanic occupants, a white van and/or car with out-of-state plates.
Was the aforementioned incident a prime example of the Border Patrol conducting illegal profiling because the vehicle was white and had Hispanic males in it? Did the Border Patrol agents figure they would check it out to see if it was full of terrorists, explosives, illegal aliens or illegal drugs? Did the Border Patrol honestly have a viable tip that someone was using a white Chevrolet Equinox transiting through Kingman with a load of illegal contraband, or were they conducting illegal profiling techniques? Pray to God you're not a dark-skinned person driving a white vehicle and pass USBP agents parked alongside the road. If you do, you'll probably be stopped and questioned in depth as to where you are coming from, where you are going and what you are carrying in your vehicle, even though you didn't do anything wrong.

• A supervisory agent for the USBP Blythe Station stated in a memorandum dated four days after the rollover that the two agents conducting the surveillance on Beale Street started to follow a suspect vehicle. He further stated they turned on their overhead emergency lights in order to close the distance with the suspect vehicle, but ultimately turned them off because they had lost sight of the white vehicle in the mountainous terrain (I presume Coyote Pass).

• One of the agents (the driver of the USBP vehicle) involved in the alleged pursuit stated that he was following the suspect vehicle and when he pulled directly behind the vehicle, he activated his overhead emergency lights and siren in an attempt to make a traffic stop. He further stated the white vehicle sped up and he lost sight of it on Highway 68. I honestly didn't know a Chevrolet Equinox could outrun a Border Patrol vehicle, especially since it was ultimately determined an illegal alien minor was driving it.

• One of the agents (the driver of the USBP vehicle) involved in the alleged pursuit stated that he lost sight of the suspect's vehicle on Highway 68 and not in the mountainous terrain of US 93.

• The other agent (not the driver of the USBP vehicle) stated he and the other agent were assigned to the Kingman area. He further stated that they saw a white vehicle near their location and decided to follow the vehicle to further investigate for immigration purposes. I presume that meant they would get close enough to see the license plate of the vehicle and run it to determine if the vehicle was stolen or not.

• Another supervisory agent stated that the agents were behind a semi truck and couldn't get through traffic because other vehicles were in the fast lane, so they turned on their overhead emergency lights so they could get through traffic to pursue the suspect's vehicle.

• A supervisory agent stated the two agents originally lost sight of the suspect vehicle and then saw a dust trail originating from Colorado Road that intersects with Highway 68. What is interesting is Colorado, where it intersects with Highway 68, is asphalt. When I visited the scene of the accident Oct. 28, 2011, there was no dirt or sand on the pavement at the intersection of Colorado and Highway 68.

• Another supervisory agent said that it wasn't dust that attracted the attention of the suspect's vehicle, but was tail lights of the white vehicle they noticed turning off the main highway and onto Colorado Road.

• Maybe the confusion and inconsistent statements as to how the agents knew the vehicle turned north on Colorado Road would have been clarified if the USBP had provided a copy of the video they took during their investigation of the alleged pursuit route.

• The memorandum by the field operations supervisor for the USBP Blythe Station, dated six days after the accident, said the accident was reported via radio and at that time, they requested medical assistance.

• For whatever reason, the report fails to mention that one of the agents involved in the alleged pursuit actually walked almost 300 feet from the accident scene to a home on Colorado Road and adjacent to where the skid marks in the dirt began and asked the resident to call 911 for medical assistance.

• Neither agent involved in the alleged pursuit stated they had spoke with the neighbor adjacent to where the accident occurred and never mentioned in their memorandum that one of them requested her to call 911 to request an ambulance.

• There is no mention as to if the USBP vehicle had a dash camera installed. And if the vehicle was equipped with a dash camera, was it turned on to memorialize the pursuit?

• If agents want to conduct a PIT maneuver; do they have to receive authorization from a superior prior to initiating the maneuver as most law enforcement agencies require?

• The U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Customs and USBP significant incident report stated they didn't expect any media interest. I guess the U.S. government doesn't believe the tragic loss of life during an alleged pursuit by government law enforcement is newsworthy.

• The U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Customs and USBP Significant Incident Report stated the agents in the alleged pursuit were on "north Highway 68" (Highway 68 actually is a west-east road) when they noticed a dust trail. It further states in the report the agents continued to follow the dust trail on Colorado (the road is asphalt for more than a mile) until such time as they found the vehicle crashed just south of Aqua Fria Drive.

All I can say is there are way too many inconsistencies contained in the report, especially what the agents said and what their supervisors wrote in the report after interviewing them.

I am beginning to wonder if the entire accident may have gone down entirely different than reported and that the agents and the USBP may be attempting to hide or conceal the actual cause of the rollover. What is said in the Border Patrol investigation report just doesn't pass the litmus test.

No matter if the individual who died was allegedly illegally in this country, his family deserves to know the real reason his life was cut short in a tragic vehicle accident on a desolate dirt road in Golden Valley.

Reader Comments

Posted: Wednesday, August 22, 2012
Article comment by: Frank Lee Speaking

If they were illegals and running fromn the law at the time.....I don't care if they die in the attempt to get away.

"I guess the U.S. government doesn't believe the tragic loss of life during an alleged pursuit by government law enforcement is newsworthy."

I am having trouble following that line. Do you mean the govt. should decide what is newsworthy. Frankly, this story does not deserve anything more than local coverage.

Tell you what, open a drop house for criminal illegals if you adore them so much.

Posted: Tuesday, August 7, 2012
Article comment by: Capt. Nice

isn't it odd how the left just about always supports to bad guy...kinda tells you something about them doesn't it?
Like one person wrote, if your not guilty, why run from the law?

Posted: Tuesday, August 7, 2012
Article comment by: Trained Observer

odd circumstances that no info was given to local LE but i think the "report" given here is over the top. The "racial profiling" thing is sure an attention getter. People can be stopped here for any reason and at any time. Quit playing the race card.

Posted: Monday, August 6, 2012
Article comment by: Throwing up

It is very obverious you are a conspiracy theorist and not a journalist. A journalist would have tried to prove his theory first and then right the article. Not bend facts first. You theory is easily disproven with the information that is contained in the accident report from the MCSO. Such as any damage to the Border Patrol Vehicle which I am sure Sgt. Bischoff would have observed while speaking with them. their vehicle would have been damaged as well in the PIT manuever. Also at that speed the Border Patrol vehicle would have most likely spun out as well. Did the MCSo find any other yaw marks in their investigation? I would go back and do some more checking.

Posted: Monday, August 6, 2012
Article comment by: The Root

I'm sorry, your "couldn't see the emergency lights" argument falls on deaf ears. I can see MCSO lights completely across the Valley on any given night. I'm still trying to figure out your political agenda and the reason for this posting.

Posted: Sunday, August 5, 2012
Article comment by: Old Kingman

[Comment deleted for excessive length]

Posted: Sunday, August 5, 2012
Article comment by: Lori Gabriel-Dane

To Butch Merriweather:

It doesn't matter to some of these people that a life has been lost. If the person was illegal, to them, that death was deserved. It doesn't matter what subject anyone talks about on here, there are those people who just hate everyone and everything and will disagree with any and all things, especially when it comes to "brown savages" as one poster to the Miner occassionally calls Hispanics.

I'm sure that the Border Patrol officers, just like some regular police officers, believe they are above the law and can beat or shoot people... just because they can, and usually get away with it. Just like that 17-year-old who "committed suicide" in the back seat of a squad car by shooting himself in the temple while his hands were cuffed behind his back. Nice trick, eh?

I agree with you that something sounds fishy about this story.

Posted: Sunday, August 5, 2012
Article comment by: justanobody sr

Law abiding US citizens DO NOT flee from red lights, or police cars!!!!!!

And in today "lawsuit happy" society, I do not blame the BP for not saying a word!, guys like you will fabricate stories to suit your agenda, to cost "HONEST US TAX PAYERS" MORE MONEY!
US citizen, or illegal, when you evade the police YOU ARE A CRIMINAL!!!

Posted: Sunday, August 5, 2012
Article comment by: David Gaither

Well the PIT maneuver is one possibility, but just as likely, (maybe even more so), is that a grossly overloaded small vehicle, driven by an inexperienced driver, at high speeds on an unpaved road is also possible.

A little supporting info, if I may. Every time I purchase a different vehicle, I take it to a safe roadway, with no traffic around and at a speed of about 40 mph, I execute a sudden lane change maneuver, such as would be the case if an animal darted out in front of me. This is so that I know how this new vehicle will react in such a situation. What I have found is that there are major differences as to how different vehicles handle such a move!

For instance, my little Honda Accord sticks to the road like a gocart...absolutely no loss of control. Same maneuver with my Honda Minivan...Oh crap...very difficult to maintain control! And that is with only me in it....now put 9 people in a vehicle the size of that Chevrolet Equinox and hit a rut in the road...bingo....bad news!

As for the USBP not talking...most likely is just the typical federal arrogance, you know...we're feds we don't have to justify our operations to you peons!

Posted: Sunday, August 5, 2012
Article comment by: Butch Meriwether

Remember the Border Patrol didnít know the immigration status of the occupants of the Chevrolet until after the accident occurred and after they allegedly conducted their investigation. All they based their justification for going after the Chevrolet was because a dark-skinned person was driving a white car. Sounds like profiling to me. The occupants of the vehicle could have been, hypothetically, a bunch of foreign nationals from Japan on vacation in the United States driving a rental car and didnít understand what to do when they may or may not have seen overhead emergency lights on a vehicle what could have been at least a mile behind them. And I believe the biggest question is why did the Border Patrol agents refuse to speak with the MCSO Sergeant who was there to investigate the accident to determine the cause?

Posted: Sunday, August 5, 2012
Article comment by: Butch Meriwether

Here is a question for those who donít think the incident I wrote about is profiling and said I should take off my aluminum hat.

What if a young Hispanic person, who is an American citizen, had taken his parentsí car without their knowledge and was driving his friends around the county and it happened to be the particular white Chevrolet I was speaking of. Maybe the fast driving wouldnít have been due to the Border Patrol, but because they were having fun and yes, violating the speed laws.

Maybe they didnít unaware Border Patrol had activated their overhead emergency lights. A semi truck was in front of them and they couldnít get close to the Chevrolet while they were behind the semi, so they activated the emergency lights. Could the Chevrolet been far enough away, they didnít actually see the emergency lights? And when the agents did get around the semi, according to one agent, they didnít see the white Chevrolet because it had driven over Coyote Pass on Hwy 93. They didnít actually mention Coyote Pass, but did say they lost sight of them in mountainous terrain.

The Chevrolet turned on Colorado off of 68 and when the agents saw the tail lights from a long distance away they figured it could possibly be the Chevrolet.

Did the Border Patrol catch up with the Chevrolet and conduct a PIT maneuver causing the accident, the death of a human being and injuring eight others beats the crap out of me, but if the dead and injured turned out to be American citizens, I bet everyone of you would be singing a different tune. Each of you would be verbally slamming the Border Patrol for their illegal profiling of vehicles and individuals who drive past their position.

Posted: Sunday, August 5, 2012
Article comment by: justanobody sr

Gee, fleeing illegals, what a new situation!
high speed, novice driver, overloaded vehicle, and you want to blame a BP officer for doing their job?
come on !!! your probably one of those who wants to open the border to everyone! so we can bring the USA down to the level of mexico.
sorry, your on deaf ears, move to mexico so you can help them!

Posted: Sunday, August 5, 2012
Article comment by: anonymous anonymous

Often its not the act which is so horrible, illegal but the attempt to cover it up turns into perjury under oath, obstruction of justice etc! Did the Pit technique get used? I venture a bet someone witnessed this accident and a coverup is not likely to succeed, if nothing was done wrong but merely a accident why ask for a attorney? I mean one see's this statement made by law enforcement when confronted by non co-operating suspects all the time they use it as a litmus test to feel someone is guilty or lying! Am sure the truth will come out one day if not on this earth in the after life!

Posted: Friday, August 3, 2012
Article comment by: The Watcher

All I can say I agree with Butch. Why has the Border Patrol refused to speak with the Mohave County Sheriffís deputies who were responsible for investigating the accident? I too think the Border Patrol agents may have done something illegal and thatís why they refuse to be interviewed. I would love to see a copy of the Border Patrol report Butch got. If it isnít too long, can you post the report Butch?

Posted: Friday, August 3, 2012
Article comment by: Old Kingman

Wow, your basis for such a long and detailed article is at the beginning based on 'there is no evidence...' and 'if they did...'.

Oh, my goodness.

You might to actually want to check with USBP and see if using the 'PIT maneuver' is authorized on a vehicle known to have several people in it, and whose only reason to stop it would be to investigate a Federal immigration misdemeanor. The response on when a 'PIT maneuver' is authorized, might be enlightening and cause you to replace your aluminum foil hat.

I commend you on a masterful article on how a car crashed while 'running from the cops'. Really I do. But where do you get the use of a 'PIT maneuver' out of that? Do just a little bit more research and you'll find that motor vehicles oftentimes yaw in the beginning stages of losing control.

You need to buy some new 'litmus' for your testing kit!

Posted: Friday, August 3, 2012
Article comment by: Same Old Thing

"they 'lawyered up" and refused to talk with the MCSO deputies who where tasked with investigating the accident. This makes me suspect they are hiding something."

Ask to exercise your rights and get the light of suspicion cast upon you. Hope you never do jury duty, Butch.

Posted: Friday, August 3, 2012
Article comment by: The Root

"it was determined the Chevrolet was traveling between 79 and 87 mph at the time of the accident."

Traveling at roughly 2X the posted speed limit had absolutely nothing to do with a novice driver losing control and rolling the vehicle. It was all the EVILLLLL Government trying to trample our rights and control our minds.

Please. Go outside and read a book or something. Put the tinfoil hat away.

Posted: Friday, August 3, 2012
Article comment by: Desert Girl

Mickeys Spouse, if was one of your relatives, legal or not, you'd still want to know the real truth about the cause of their death.

Posted: Thursday, August 2, 2012
Article comment by: Mickeys Spouse

The family does have the right to know why a life was cut short... tell them it was because their loved one was doing something unlawful!!!!!!!!!!! What a novel idea!!!!!!!! Give me a break with the bleeding heart stuff!!!!

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