Texas DPS Helicopter Shooting Under Investigation
November 02, 2012

SAN ANTONIO, Texas -- Residents and elected officials in South Texas continue to protest a fatal shooting of two undocumented immigrants from a Department of Public Safety helicopter.

However, an audio recording of the high speed chase supports the Department of Public Safety, which claims they didn’t realize people were in the bed of the truck.

The audio recording tells the story. On Thursday, Oct. 25 at approximately 3 p.m. at Texas DPS officer is in a helicopter, tracking a truck driving down a dirt road in Hidalgo County near the U.S.-Mexico border.

In a recording of dispatch communications obtained by KRGV-TV, DPS Tactical Flight Officer Miguel Avila can be heard in the helicopter, reporting to his fellow officers engaged in the ground chase about what he sees from the sky.

Avila says the truck is loaded with bales of drugs, but he’s wrong. There are eight suspected illegal immigrants in the back of the truck, and at the wheel was a 14-year-old boy.

Avila decides to end the chase by shooting two tires out on the truck. The truck comes to a stop, and Avila asks about other possible injuries.

Two people are dead, and another is injured and taken to a local hospital. No drugs were found.

Avila was originally placed on leave with pay, and has since returned to administrative duties. Presently the Texas Rangers, an elite force within DPS, is leading the investigation.

On Friday the American Civil Liberties Union and border civil rights organizations called for an independent investigation. They say they aren't satisfied with the few answers the Texas DPS has provided.

“There is an attitude that seems to signal no regard for human life," said Terry Burk, the executive director of the Texas chapter of the ACLU. "They shoot first and ask questions later.”

DPS officials said the shooting follows department policy and was necessary to protect public safety.

The chase started after Texas Parks and Wildlife game wardens spotted the pickup. The DPS helicopter joined the 14-mile chase.