DPS helicopter. (File)
EDINBURG (September 10, 2013)--The Hidalgo County Grand Jury Tuesday declined to indict Department of Public Safety Trooper Miguel Avila who fired from a helicopter at a fleeing pickup truck on Oct. 25, 2012 in remote South Texas, killing two Guatemalan immigrants.
Avila fired repeatedly from a helicopter in an effort to shoot out the tires of the truck during a high-speed chase that started when Texas Parks and Wildlife game wardens tried to stop the truck on an unpaved road.
The DPS helicopter joined the pursuit about halfway through the 14-mile chase.
The pickup, which was driven by a teenager, appeared to be carrying what the DPS described as a typical covered drug load, but instead, there were nine Guatemalans in the truck, six of whom were hidden in the covered bed of the truck.
Three immigrants were wounded and two died.
No one was observed in the pickup’s bed until the vehicle stopped, the DPS said after reviewing the incident.
The truck’s driver, who’s now 15, was arrested, released by mistake, arrested again in December driving a stolen vehicle and placed on probation to be deported.
He was arrested again last month by the U.S. Border Patrol.
In November 2012, the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas demanded an independent investigation of the deaths.
The ACLU made the demand in a letter to DPS Director Steve McCraw said, "If the facts as reported are true, this use of deadly force was illegal and unconstitutional."
But later in November, two Democratic state lawmakers who share oversight of the Texas Department of Public Safety said they couldn't tell from their viewing of a DPS video that immigrants were hidden beneath a tarp in the pickup.
Sen. Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa, D-McAllen and Rep. Lon Burnam, D-Fort Worth viewed the video separately and said they couldn't tell that people were beneath the tarp, although they said at the time they were still skeptical that the use of lethal force was justified.