The family of Valeria Alvarado Tachiquin filed a lawsuit Monday against Border Patrol agent Justin Tackett for what they believe was an unjustifiable death.
Tackett shot Alvarado Tachiquin, 32, in September 2012 after agents had tried to execute an arrest warrant on the woman’s acquaintence.
Alvarado Tachiquin’s family said there was no reason for Tackett to shoot and kill her.
“What is of concern to us is the fact that it appears that when someone is killed by a law enforcement agent, a double standard applies,” said the family’s attorney, Eugene Iredale, at a press conference.
“Criminal investigation is pursued in a lackadaisical fashion and that is akin to a washing machine; everything you put in it comes out clean.”
Alvarado Tachiquin’s family said the reason for the lawsuit is to bring closure to an unjustifiable death.
At the time of the incident, law enforcement officials said Alvarado Tachiquin was in a residence on Moss Street in Chula Vista. Border Patrol agents arrived at the aprtment to execute an arrest warrant on someone regarding immigration charges. Authorities have said Alvarado Tachiquin was not the subject of the warrant.
According to Border Patrol officials, Alvarado Tachiquin tried to leave the scene by driving away, which is when she allegedly struck agent Hackett with her car. Authorities reported that Hackett, while on the hood of the car, was dragged 300 yards.
Iredale said a Border Patrol spokesman told him Hackett shot Alvarado because Hackett feared for his life.
Iredale said the issue of Alvarado Tachiquin ever hitting the agent with her car is where the story conflicts.
“We have statements from several witnesses that in fact what happened was not as what was initially attempted to be falsely portrayed by Border Patrol officials, that Valeria somehow hit him (Hackett) so hard that she pushed him onto the trunk and then sped away so that this man could not get off,” Iredale said.
Iredale said witnesses told an investigator that Tackett forced himself onto the vehicle.
Iredale also said the investigations by the Chula Vista Police Department, the Border Patrol and FBI are faulty because those agencies have refused to interview Prince Watson, a key witness for the family, who said he never saw Tackett on the hood of the car. Watson said he has reached out to the Chula Vista Police Department but has kept getting the runaround.
“I ran to the window to see what was going on,” Watson said. “I noticed the car was in reverse going backwards. I didn’t see anyone behind the car. I did see the agent that was walking toward the car, and he was walking toward the car at that point.”
Watson added: “Nothing was being said. I didn’t hear any words, I never (saw) him on top of the hood or anything like that. I get outside and hear three or more shots being fired, and I see the lady in the car and she’s basically driving in reverse and could just see all the bullet holes on the car and she’s like gasping, and like fighting and struggling and he runs to the car and opens the door, once he opens the door and he just lets her body hang out the car and I thought that was inhumane.”
Chula Vista Police Capt. Gary Wedge said that Watson and Iredale’s claim is inaccurate.
“Our detective had an appointment with Watson after the incident, and he didn’t show up,” Wedge said. “We looked for him and couldn’t find him.”
Wedge said Chula Vista Polcie Department tried several times to locate Watson.
Iredale said his clients want nothing more than justice.
“This case is an attempt to do what the Chula Vista Police Department, the Border Patrol, the FBI, and the state and federal prosecuting authorities have refused to do, which is to obtain the truth and to reveal it in a transparent way,” Iredale said
Border Patrol public affairs officer Gerardo Gutierrez wrote an email to The Star-News regarding the case.
“The investigation into this incident is continuing and is being carried out by a number of law enforcement agencies to include the Chula Vista Police Department and the DHS Office of the Inspector General. We continue to fully cooperate in the investigation of this matter. Because the investigation continues and because of the pending litigation, we will not comment further at this time.”