Victims' Rights Caucus

Speeches

Transcript from CNN's "Lou Dobbs Tonight"
March 19, 2007
Featuring Congressman Ted Poe
TOPIC:  Border Agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PILGRIM: Tonight, a new case of outrageous border injustice -- two of our Border Patrol agents, Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean, are already serving lengthy prison terms for shooting and wounding an illegal alien Mexican drug smuggler in Texas.

Well, today, the same prosecutor who went after Ramos and Compean is responsible for sending another law enforcement officer to prison.

As Casey Wian reports, the case raises questions about the Bush administration's apparent efforts to appease the Mexican government.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Former Edwards County Texas sheriff's deputy Gilmer Hernandez was just doing his job that day in April 2005, when he attempted to pull over a Suburban loaded with suspected illegal aliens.

CHIEF DEPUTY JAY ADAMS, EDWARDS COUNTY, TEXAS, SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT: Gilmer approached the car that run the stop sign. They stopped approximately half a mile after he turned his emergency lights on. He walked up to the driver's window and asked for the license. And the driver immediately put the car in gear and swerved toward him, taking off. Gilmer pulled his pistol and fired at the left rear tire, blowing it out. And they kept on going, and he attempted to shoot out the right rear tire.

WIAN: One of the shots slightly injured a passenger. The other occupants fled. The Texas Rangers investigated the shooting and cleared the deputy of wrongdoing. Even so, Gilmer Hernandez, not the illegal aliens or their smugglers, is now the one incarcerated.

He was convicted of violating the illegal aliens' civil rights and sentenced to a year and a day in prison.

ADAMS: I believe that Gilmer was unfairly prosecuted. If a police officer can't protect the people that he's assigned to protect and serve, who's going to protect him?

WIAN: It's a painful separation from his wife and 7-month-old daughter.

ASHLEY HERNANDEZ, GILMER'S WIFE: He knows he did what was right, and everybody's supporting him and that keeps him going.

ROY COTTLE, LONGTIME FRIEND OF GILMER: This is a small town. We all know everybody. We know their whole life history. If Gilmer Hernandez wasn't a good person, this whole town wouldn't be behind him, but we are 100 percent.

WIAN: Hernandez was prosecuted by Texas U.S. attorney Johnny Sutton's office after the Mexican government intervened in the case. Sutton also pursued criminal charges against Border Patrol agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean for shooting and wounding an illegal alien Mexican drug smuggler.

REP. TED POE (R), TEXAS: They were similar in that the Mexican government demanded prosecution. Our federal government quickly reacted to prosecute in both cases. And in both of the cases, when the border agents and Gilmer Hernandez discharged their weapons, they were acting in self-defense, but yet, the federal government felt otherwise and prosecuted them for really doing what I think was their job.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WIAN: Poe and other supporters want a congressional investigation into how the Mexican government may have influenced both prosecutions. Hernandez could have received a decade in prison.

However, with time served and good behavior, he will serve most of the rest of his sentence in a halfway house and be home with his family in about six months.

PILGRIM: Casey, what was Johnny Sutton's reaction to the prosecution of this case? WIAN: He defended the prosecution of this case. He says that this sheriff's deputy broke the law by shooting at suspects who were fleeing. But what's interesting is that the sentence handed down by the judge, one year and a day, was far short of the seven-year sentence that federal prosec