More details have emerged in the fatal shooting of a San Diego woman by a U.S. Border Patrol agent Sept. 28 on Moss Street in Chula Vista.
Chula Vista Police Capt. Gary Wedge released a statement Tuesday evening with the intention to “paint a more accurate detail of what happened (that day).”
The shooting took the life of 32-year-old mother of five Valeria Munique Tachiquin-Alvarado. Since then, family members, friends, human rights activists and community members have sought answers from law enforcement officials and witnesses.
Last Friday, Tachiquin-Alvarado was visiting friends, according to family members, when a group of plain-clothes agents were attempting to arrest a prior deported felon during an enforcement operation at an apartment in the 600 block of Moss Street, police said.
The agents knocked on the door, identified themselves and made contact with an occupant, asking for the person in question.
Police said that Tachiquin-Alvarado was in the residence.
“As the agents were getting information from the occupant, Munique was coming out from the backside of the apartment,” Wedge said. “She directed a response to the occupant (saying yes he’s here) … and then walked passed the agents (toward a vehicle parked on the street).”
At approximately 1 p.m., agents outside the complex made contact with Tachiquin-Alvarado as she entered the vehicle, but she pulled away from the curb, striking an agent.
The agent announced to Tachiquin-Alvarado that she was under arrest for vehicular assault, while a second agent reached through the driver’s side window and tried to remove the keys.
Tachiquin-Alvarado struck the agent again and then drove westbound on Moss Street with the agent on the hood of her vehicle, according to police.
Tachiquin-Alvarado was travelling about 25 miles per hour and the agent appeared fearful and yelled “Stop!” according to witness statements.
Police say the agent was taken more than 200 yards on the hood of her vehicle.
“A witness said it was at this time the agent (who was struck) drew his service weapon and fired multiple rounds into the windshield, striking Tachiquin-Alvarado,” Wedge said.
During a news conference held by Alliance San Diego Monday morning, family members of Tachiquin-Alvarado demanded answers to the tragedy.
Alliance San Diego Executive Director Andrea Guerrero called her death senseless.
She, along with other human rights activists, say the U.S. Border Patrol is acting out of control and not being held accountable for their actions.
Christian Ramirez, human rights director for Alliance San Diego, said Tachiquin-Alvarado’s death was the 15th by the Border Patrol in the last two years.
“There’s a growing abuse by U.S. Border Patrol and it needs to stop,” he said. “This could have been any one of us. How many more deaths do we need to count..?”
At the news conference, her father Valentin was overcome with emotion.
“I really don’t know where to begin,” he said. “…How to express myself at the death of my daughter.”
The family was distressed by conflicting reports from witnesses.
Tachiquin-Alvarado’s brother Antonio, 28, said Monday that the family is focused on getting answers and justice.
“All we ask is that there’s a full investigation,” he said. “We want whoever did it to own up to it. …We don’t want vengeance, just justice.”
Guerrero said the statement released by the Police Department Tuesday raises more questions than it answers.
“Do they have any basis to detain this woman? ...She was not the subject of the warrant,” Guerrero said.
Wedge said a federal statute states that when agents are at the scene of a wanted person it gives them a legal right to detain people under certain circumstances.
Wedge said there were prior complaints of drug activity by the occupants of the apartment.
Officials report that at the time of the incident, Tachiquin-Alvarado was on probation for possession of drug paraphernalia in 2011.
“She has a number of prior arrests related to drugs but not all were convictions,” Wedge said.
At a Monday evening vigil for his daughter, Valentin said that law enforcement officials were going to make his daughter look bad eventually.
“Her character was not in question,” he said. “The question they need to answer is the person who killed her.”
Guerrero asked how law enforcement officials account for eye-witness statements that the agent shot from a standing position and not from the hood of the car.
“The witness statements that we’ve been focusing on are the ones that saw the commotion at the car and another witness down the street that saw Munique take the turns,” Wedge said.
Wedge said that nine to 10 rounds were discharged from the agent’s weapon, which emptied his gun.
“The agent shot through the windshield,” Wedge said. “All the rounds entered Munique from the front, consistent with the rounds from the windshield.”
The agent was taken to the hospital for evaluation, but sustained no injuries, according to Wedge.
Police have declined to release the agent’s name.
“We appreciate the Police Department’s efforts,” Guerrero said. “We hope they will be objective and fair. And we hope that this investigation is not designed to reach a pre-ordained exoneration of the Border Patrol (agents).”
To view a related video click here.