Tuesday, October 7, 2008
Tohono O'odham mother plans murder charge against US Border Patrol
By Brenda Norrell
Photo Angelita Reino Ramon at the site of her son's death near the Arizona and Mexico border. Photo Brenda Norrell
SELLS, Arizona - The Tohono O'odham mother of a teenager who was ran over and killed by the US Border Patrol made a plea for help so she can continue to pursue court action and charge the Border Patrol agent with murder.
Bennett Patricio, Jr., 18, was ran over and killed during the predawn hours in a remote area of the Tohono O'odham Nation in 2002.
Although the family's civil case reached the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, the family was abandoned by their attorney.
Angelita Reino Ramon, Bennett's mother, made an appeal for help on Sunday. "We sold all our furniture, our truck and our car, so we could get to San Francisco and the Ninth Circuit Court," Angelita said."We are in a very desperate situation," she said.
Angelita said now the family has no car to take the children to school, go shopping for food or look for jobs.
"No one wants to help us. We are in a really difficult situation."
"We're looking for someone who can help us with Bennett Patricio, Jr.'s case. We want to take it back to court in Tucson and file a murder charge. We need a lawyer who isn't afraid of the government and will stick with it all the way through.
"Our attorney stole the money from us, our fear is now, ‘Who can we trust?'"After the lower court, the US District Court in Tucson, ruled in favor of the Border Patrol, the civil case reached the Ninth Circuit. The family prepared much of the case themselves, selling everything to travel to San Francisco, focused on justice for Bennett.
When they arrived in San Francisco, the people who had promised to help them failed to do so.
"We thought people would help us when we got to San Francisco, but they didn't help us, even though they invited us to come and offered to help us there."
When they became desperate in the Bay Area, the late Floyd Westerman did help them. The students at DQ University also helped them and eventually the family made it back home to the Tohono O'odham Nation.
"Thanks to them, and the Aztecs in San Jose also helped us with gas," she said.
For Angelita, sometimes, there is just too much pain and sorrow, the memories too painful.Bennett was walking home across the desert in the predawn hours of April 9, 2002, when he was ran over and killed by a border patrol officer in a remote area, south of Sells near the international border. US Border Patrol Agent Cody Rouse struck Bennett and dragged his body at least 50 feet before stopping.
When the agent called in to report the incident, Rouse simply claimed there was a body on the side of the road. Initially, Rouse did not admit that he ran over and killed Bennett. Later, in a series of conflicting stories, the US Border Patrol claimed that it was an accident.
Based on the evidence, Ramon and her husband, Irvin Ramon, believe that Bennett was walking home through the desert and happened upon an illegal transfer of drugs being carried out by US Border Patrol agents.
The couple believe that as Bennett walked away, into the darkness, that he was intentionally ran over and killed by border patrol agents.
After Angelita was told that her son was killed, she waited for an apology for her son's death from the Border Patrol. The apology never came. Neither did help or support. The Tohono O'odham Nation would not provide funds, nor an attorney, in the family's fight for justice.
"I'm here to let everyone know about the Border Patrol and how they killed my son," Angelita said, speaking to the Indigenous Peoples Border Summit of the Americas in San Xavier, Arizona.Angelita said no mother should ever have to identify the body of their child crushed from his head to his feet.
Shouldering this sorrow, she has persevered with little or no support. Intensifying the pain, she endures hostility toward her, because she pursued justice for her son in federal court.
Ramon can be reached at: Angelita Reino Ramon, PO Box 1082, Sells, Arizona 85634
"While the Bush regime pillages, the people march against the Border Wall in El Paso"