When a sheriff says it's "good police work" that led to a high-speed chase that ended in a catastrophic collision and five deaths, we should be very, very concerned.
That's what happened on Sunday in Texas when a chase by Border Patrol agents and Dimmit County deputies ended in deadly disaster. According to multiple media reports, Border Patrol agents suspected a trio of vehicles in Carrizo Springs, Texas, were transporting illegal immigrants. They gave chase and managed to get two of the vans to stop. The third kept on going and a Dimmit County deputy picked up the chase. The pursuit reached speeds of 100 miles per hour before the van apparently lost control and crashed near Big Wells:
In the aftermath of a crash that killed five immigrants and injured several others, Dimmit County Sheriff Marion Boyd made a plea for stronger security measures along the Texas-Mexico border. #KSATnews https://t.co/e3kULKtanr— KSAT 12 (@ksatnews) June 18, 2018
The van was carrying 14 people. Four people died in the crash. A fifth died later at the hospital. While officials believe many of the people were in the country illegally (the driver, though, is apparently a U.S. citizen) there's nothing in any of the reporting that suggests officials suspected any of these people were dangerous or engaged in violent activities. It may turn out that they were, but for now all we know is that authorities believed they were illegal immigrants.
If this high-speed chase involved American citizens we'd be asking some really tough questions about why law enforcement officials insisted on such a dangerous pursuit to stop people who, as far as they knew, were not involved in any violent behavior. People may recall that, in that famous case about the Utah nurse who was arrested for refusing to draw a comatose patient, that comatose man was in the hospital because he was struck by a car fleeing police. He later died. The case raised some questions as to whether the police involved were trying to get something on the victim that would protect themselves from criticism or legal liability for the chase.
But because this chase and deadly crash involved immigrants, there's no discussion about safe policing practices at all. Instead, Sheriff Marion Boyd says this is all about border security, which is the equivalent of blaming a no-knock SWAT raid in which police intended to arrest a low-level marijuana dealer on the inability to stem the flow of synthetic fentanyl into the United States from China.
"I think we need a wall, in my opinion," Boyd said in an interview after the deadly crash. He says he sees lots of drug and illegal immigrants crossing the border and thinks the problem is a lack of security.
If that wall ends up being built, he's going to end up being disappointed when it doesn't stop illegal immigration. Prohibitions have never stopped drug trafficking, so he should know better at this point.
The lack of a border wall or more advanced border security didn't cause the reckless police decisions that led to this deadly crash any more than an American citizen's drug habit caused police to shoot his dog during a militarized drug raid. It's grotesque that the irresponsibility of the police is ignored because of the citizenship of the people they were pursuing.
Photo Credit: LOREN ELLIOTT/REUTERS/Newscom