The community outraged by the murder of Raymond Mattia
PHOENIX – Three U.S. Border Patrol officers in southern Arizona fatally shot a member of the Tohono O’odham Nation multiple times after the man threw an object at a police officer and suddenly stretched his right arm away from him. his body, according to new details released late Monday.
Agents from the Ajo Border Patrol Station fatally shot Raymond Mattia outside his home in the Meneger’s Dam community of the Tohono O’odham Nation near Ajo, Arizona at 9:39 p.m. local time on May 18, according to US Customs and Border Protection.
The Tohono O’odham Nation Police Department had requested Border Patrol assistance in responding to a call for gunfire west of the community of Meneger’s Dam, which is about a mile north of the US-Mexico border.
Mattia was two feet from his front door when he was shot about 38 times, according to a report by Tucson TV station KVOA. Mattia had called Border Patrol because he had several trespassing migrants in his yard and wanted help getting them out of his property, KVOA reported.
CBP has not confirmed the number of times Mattia was shot.
A police officer and at least 10 Border Patrol agents were present for the shooting, according to new details released Monday evening in a written statement from CBP. All 10 officers activated their body cameras during the shooting, per CBP.
Rob Daniels, a CBP spokesman, only said the investigation was ongoing when he was contacted for comment by The Arizona Republic, part of the USA TODAY Network. The FBI and Tohono O’odham Nation Police are also investigating the fatal shooting.
Officers administered CPR to Mattia after they could not detect a pulse and requested an air medical evacuation. But due to bad weather, there was no air evacuation available.
Mattia was pronounced dead at 10:06 p.m.
The incident is the second fatal shooting by Border Patrol Sector Tucson officers in three months. The sector has the highest number of use-of-force incidents in the entire agency, with 158 incidents reported so far in fiscal year 2023, according to CBP data.
The Tohono O’odham Nation is Arizona’s second-largest reservation by population and geographic size, occupying nearly 3 million acres with about 28,000 members, according to the tribal nation’s website.
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Several officers from the Ajo Border Patrol Station responded to a request for assistance from the Tohono O’odham Nation Police Department for shootings at 9:04 p.m. local time on May 18.
After parking near Mattia’s home, a police department officer and Border Patrol agents dispersed in search of a man, according to CBP. At 9:39 p.m., the officer and officers met Mattia outside his home, approximately 103 yards northwest of their parked vehicles.
Mattia threw an object at the officer as officers approached the home, CBP said. The object, which we do not know what it was, landed a few meters in front of the officer.
Shortly after Mattia threw the object, he “suddenly” extended his right arm away from his body, CBP said.
Three officers shot Mattia multiple times before he fell to the ground, according to CBP.
Officers gave Mattia CPR after not detecting a pulse and requested air medical evacuation before being told she was unavailable due to inclement weather. A Tucson doctor, who was called by a Border Patrol emergency medical technician to the scene, pronounced Mattia dead at 10:06 p.m.
The Pima County Medical Examiner’s Office took custody of Mattia’s body pending an autopsy.
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The family outraged by the shooting
Mattia was identified by Tribal Chairman Ned Norris Jr. said in a May 21 statement and declined to comment further on the matter due to the ongoing investigation.
“Nation member Raymond Mattia lost his life in the incident. Our thoughts are with his family and everyone affected during this difficult time,” Norris said. “As the investigation progresses, the Nation expects a full review of all facts related to the incident and an appropriate and prompt response from the relevant public safety agencies.”
KVOA reported that Mattia’s family is outraged by the shooting and wants answers.
Family members, who asked not to be identified, told KVOA that Mattia was shot 38 times after calling for Border Patrol help.
“He called for help because there were several illegal immigrants who had entered his yard and he wanted help getting them out of his property,” a family member told KVOA. .
The family told the station that Mattia walked out after seeing the officers. They also alleged that he was suddenly shot when he was only two feet from his front door.
“They told us there were about 38 shots fired at him. You know that’s excessive and we want justice and we want to know what happened and why there were so many border patrols who were shooting at him,” a family member said.
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A “highly respected” member of the nation
KVOA reported that Mattia was a “highly respected member of the Tohono O’odham community”.
Ophelia Rivas, a friend of the family, called Mattia a law-abiding citizen, artist, singer and traditional hunter. “He was not an aggressive man, he was not violent,” Rivas told KVOA.
Rivas said she and others in the nation were angry. People on social media also shared their anger over the incident, directing their criticism at the Border Patrol.
“I have dealt with the Border Patrol aggression and unsupervised behavior here on Tohono O’odham land with no regard for respect, the land and the people,” Rivas told KVOA.
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Agents on leave as FBI investigates shooting
The medical examiner’s office conducted an autopsy on May 19, the day after the shooting. The office will release further information about the cause and manner of death upon completion of its review.
The officers involved in the shooting are on administrative leave, which is common practice following the use of lethal force. CBP said the agency is committed to releasing body camera footage of the shooting as soon as it is appropriate to do so.
It took CBP nearly a month to release the body camera footage of the Border Patrol shooting near Sasabe in March. The shooting was ruled a homicide by the Pima County Medical Examiner’s Office.
The shooting is under review by CBP’s Office of Professional Responsibility and will be reviewed by CBP’s National Use of Force Review Board upon completion of the investigation.
The US Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General was also notified of the fatal shooting.
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