Family of Native American man killed by Border Patrol in Arizona wants to know why he was shot


A relative of a Native American who was killed by Border Patrol agents near the Arizona-Mexico border two weeks ago said she was talking to him moments before he was shot and he told her he had contacted Border Patrol. earlier in the evening to ask. for help

But the relative said none of the law enforcement agencies investigating the May 18 shooting death of Raymond Mattia have asked her or any other family members for information, and the official Customs and Border Protection statement about the incident he does not mention a call from Mattia.

The relative said she has been lobbying police for information about the shooting ever since it happened, to no avail, and the family was not even allowed near her body for hours. “I asked that night: ‘We want to talk to someone. What happened to Ray? We need answers,’” said the relative, who preferred to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation from law enforcement.

Raymond Mattia.courtesy family

Now you want to know: “Why did Border Patrol rush into the yard instead of assessing? Why were there so many shots? Why didn’t you try to talk to Ray?

According to the relative, who lives near Mattia’s home, Mattia regularly called Border Patrol to report migrants crossing his property on Tohono O’odham Nation tribal lands. The 4,000-square-mile reservation in the desert west of Tucson shares a long border with Mexico. The relative said Border Patrol frequently interacted with him.

The relative said that if she were contacted by the FBI or Customs and Border Protection’s Office of Professional Responsibility, two federal entities investigating the shooting, she would tell investigators that around 6 p.m. on May 18, Mattia told her that he had Called Border Patrol to complain about three undocumented immigrants who entered his home and asked to use his phone and bathroom.

More than three hours later, she said, she and Mattia were on the phone again when Border Patrol vehicles rushed into her yard. He believed they were responding to her call and told her he would go talk to them.

He hung up, she said, and then she heard gunshots.

A statement on the CBP incident does not mention Mattia’s alleged earlier call. Instead, he says Border Patrol agents were helping Tohono O’odham tribal police respond to a «call of gunshots.»

The discrepancy may explain why Mattia left his home to meet the agents, thinking they were responding to his earlier request, while the agents, according to the CBP statement, «spread out to search for the man.»

The statement says CBP’s Office of Professional Responsibility reviewed video taken from the agents’ body cameras and deciphered that Mattia threw an object at the agents, which landed a few feet from them, and «abruptly extended his right arm.» , causing it to fire.

According to Mattia’s relative, she was not aware of any gunshots in the area that night before Border Patrol and tribal police arrived.

FILE - US Customs and Patrol agents sit along a section of the international border wall that runs through Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, Thursday, Aug. 22, 2019, in Lukeville, Arizona.  man on a tribal reservation in southern Arizona after he abruptly threw something and raised his arm, the agency said Monday, May 22, 2023.
US Customs and Border Patrol vehicles park along a section of the international border wall in Lukeville, Arizona, in 2019.Matt York/AP File

She said there is no power at Mattia’s home, making it difficult for law enforcement officers to see at 9:35 p.m.

Neither CBP nor the FBI, which oversees all investigations of shootings on tribal land, have said what Mattia released. They did not respond to a request for comment about why none of the family members have been interviewed, when the body camera video would be made public or whether Border Patrol knew if Mattia had made a call to them earlier that day before they arrived. his house.

The incident may further erode trust between Border Patrol and the Tohono O’odham Nation.

“My uncle didn’t deserve to die like this,” Yvonne Nevarez, Mattia’s niece, told The Arizona Republic. “After this happened, we feel that we cannot trust [the Border Patrol] to come when there is trouble.”

According to Mattia’s relative, who rushed to the scene of the shooting, a Tohono O’odham police officer prevented family members from viewing his body. She said the officer told them to go home, but family members told the officers they had to stay with her brother and bless her body. She said they didn’t see Mattia until she was in a body bag on the way to the medical examiner. The Tohono O’odham Police Department did not respond to a request for comment on why the family was prevented from seeing Mattia.

“We said goodbye while I was in a body bag,” the relative said. “The elders said that he was very disrespectful.”

The next morning, the relative said, all the crime scene tape around Mattia’s house had been removed, but no officers or law enforcement officers came to talk to the family about what happened.

“It seemed like the whole investigation was over,” the relative said. «But no one ever came to talk to us.»

Last weekend, the family staged two protests outside Border Patrol stations in Tucson and near the Tohono O’odham National Reservation to demand answers about Mattia’s death.

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