The man killed by a Border Patrol agent Friday in Green Valley was unarmed but had turned and made what appeared to be a threatening gesture, according to a Pima County Sheriff's detective.
Agent Daniel Marquez fired at Jose Luis Arambula nine times, striking him once behind the left ear, according to PCSD Detective David Theel, who spoke at a press conference Monday at Sheriff's headquarters in Tucson.
Theel said Arambula, a U.S. citizen who lived in the Tucson area, led two Border Patrol agents on a quarter-mile foot chase into nearby pecan groves after he drove across Torres Blancas golf course and became stuck in a wash. Earlier, he'd refused to stop when they tried to pull him over on Interstate 19 south of Green Valley; 21 bales of marijuana were found in his vehicle.
Theel said Arambula turned toward the agent during the pursuit and “may have pointed at him” and appeared he was “punching out” — a firearms training term where the shooter has a two-handed grip “as if to provide a good shooting platform.”
Arambula, 31, was shot from about 60 to 70 feet, Theel said.
Theel said the investigation is ongoing and that they have requested radio transmissions and statements from other Border Patrol agents. The investigation will be forwarded to the Pima County Attorney's Office, which will decide whether there will be any charges.
Arambula was arrested April 4 after leading agents on a high-speed chase into Tucson. He was charged with six counts of aggravated assault; four counts of criminal damage; six counts of possession of marijuana; two counts of unlawful flight from law enforcement; and one count of driving on a suspended license, a spokesman for the sheriff’s department said.
He was released on $2,500 bond.
Art Del Cueto, president of Border Patrol Local Union 2544, said they are upset that the Sheriff's Department publicized the name of the agent involved because they fear it puts him at risk.
He added that when Arambula was arrested in April, he had led agents on a dangerous pursuit through Tucson and that the agents may have known that they were dealing with a repeat offender willing to take risks.
While the Border Patrol tends to follow a tight-lipped approach to use-of-force incidents, state and local law enforcement agencies often release the names of officers involved in shootings.
Friday’s shooting in Green Valley came hours after the Border Patrol released, under pressure, a 2013 report critical of its handling of several incidents involving fatal use of force, and a 117-page manual dated May 2014 detailing use-of-force policies.
Philip Franchine | 547-9738