Federal Bureau of Investigation finds no evidence of altercation in border patrol agent's death

Nellie Chapman
February 8, 2018

The FBI said Wednesday it has conducted 26 searches and more than 650 interviews during its investigation into the death of Border Patrol Agent Rogelio Martinez, and to date, no evidence has been produced to "support the existence of a scuffle, altercation, or attack".

Agents Rogelio Martinez and Stephen Garland were found at the bottom of a culvert in West Texas in November.

An autopsy report released Tuesday by the El Paso County Medical Examiner's Office confirmed that Martinez died of blunt injuries to the head, but it listed the manner of death as "undetermined".

Martinez's death became a political talking point, with President Donald Trump saying Martinez was attacked and calling for a border wall.

The FBI had identified two persons of interest, but through forensic analysis, both have been determined not to have had anything to do with the death of Agent Martinez and the injuries to his partner. Garland's distress call the night of the incident referenced running into a culvert.

Over 650 interviews were conducted and no evidence "that would support the existence of a scuffle, altercation, or attack", ever materialized, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

"As part of this effort, the FBI has investigated multiple theories, including whether the Border Patrol Agents were ambushed or attacked or whether their injuries were as a result of an accident or any other relevant criminal activity", El Paso Special Agent in Charge Emmerson Buie Jr. said in a press statement Wednesday afternoon.

"Border Patrol Officer killed at Southern Border, another badly hurt". "According to the release, the dispatcher wrote in his log that, "(He) thinks they (both agents) ran into a culvert".

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"To date, none of the more than 650 interviews completed, locations searched, or evidence collected and analyzed have produced evidence that would support the existence of a scuffle, altercation or attack", the agency said in a statement, referring to the incident on November 18.

First responders found Martinez first, according to the internal Customs and Border Protection memo. Within hours, union officials said they believed Martinez had been ambushed by smugglers in a rock attack. Earlier this week, Trump called on Democrats to "get tough" on immigration, citing the death of Indianapolis Colts linebacker Edwin Jackson, who was killed in a suspected drunken-driving crash involving a Guatemalan citizen living illegally in the U.S. Manuel Orrego-Savala was charged Wednesday with two counts each of causing death while driving intoxicated and leaving the scene of an accident.

Dr. Janice Diaz-Cavalliery, assistant medical examiner, found that Martinez had a skull fracture, a fractured eye socket, multiple rib fractures and a broken collarbone, according to the 11-page report.

The National Border Patrol Council, a union representing border agents, previously suggested that the men were beaten with rocks. "The FBI is still keeping jurisdiction, and last time I checked, the FBI doesn't investigate traffic accidents".

"Our view hasn't changed".

The F.B.I.'s report, which said agents had interviewed more than 650 people, came one day after the release of Mr. Martinez's autopsy report. "It's just dumb, the physics aren't there".

The FBI said it will continue investigating and has extended a cash reward for information leading to a resolution of the case.

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