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Family of Native American Killed by Border Patrol in Arizona Wants to Know Why He Was Shot

A relative of a Native American who was killed by Border Patrol agents near the Arizona-Mexico border two weeks ago said she was speaking to him moments before he was shot and he told her that he had contacted Border Patrol earlier that evening asking for help.

But the relative said none of the law enforcement agencies investigating Raymond Mattia’s May 18 shooting death had asked him or any other family members for information, and the statement Customs and Border Protection official on the incident makes no mention of a call from Mattia.

The relative said she had lobbied law enforcement for information about the shooting since it happened, with no success – and the family weren’t even allowed in approach his body for hours. “I asked that night, ‘We want to talk to someone. What happened to Ray? We need answers,” said the parent, who preferred to remain anonymous for fear of reprisals from law enforcement.

Raymond Mattia.Courtesy family

Now she wants to know, “Why did Border Patrol run into the yard instead of assessing?” Why were there so many gunshots? Why didn’t you try talking to Ray?

According to the relative, who lives near Mattia’s home, Mattia regularly called Border Patrol to report migrants crossing his property on Tohono O’odham Nation tribal lands. The 4,000 square mile reservation in the desert west of Tucson shares a long border with Mexico. The relative said Border Patrol had frequent interactions with him.

The relative said that if contacted by the FBI or the Office of Professional Accountability of Customs and Border Protection, two federal entities investigating the shooting, she would tell investigators that around 6 p.m. on May 18, Mattia told him said he called Border Patrol to complain about three undocumented people who entered his home and demanded to use his phone and bathroom.

More than three hours later, she said, she and Mattia were talking on the phone again when Border Patrol vehicles burst into her yard. He thought they were answering his call and told him he would speak to them.

He hung up, she said, and then she heard gunshots.

A statement on the CBP incident makes no mention of Mattia’s alleged earlier call. Instead, it says Border Patrol agents were helping Tohono O’odham Tribal Police respond to a “call for gunfire.”

The discrepancy may explain why Mattia walked out of his home to meet with officers, thinking they were responding to his earlier request, while officers, according to the CBP statement, “scattered to look for the man”.

The statement said the CBP Office of Professional Responsibility reviewed video taken from body cameras worn on the officers and deciphered that Mattia threw an object at the officers, which landed a few feet away from them, and “suddenly extended his right arm”, causing them to fire.

According to someone close to Mattia, she was unaware of any shots fired in the area that evening until Border Patrol and Tribal Police arrived.

FILE - U.S. Customs and Patrol officers sit along a section of the International Border Wall that runs through Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, Thursday, Aug. 22, 2019, in Lukeville, Arizona.  man at a tribal reservation in southern Arizona after suddenly throwing something and raising his arm, the agency said Monday, May 22, 2023.
United States Customs and Border Patrol vehicles park along a section of the international border wall in Lukeville, Arizona in 2019.Matt York/AP File

She said there was no electricity at Mattia’s home, making visibility difficult for law enforcement at 9:35 p.m. The parent also said the object Mattia threw may have been her mobile phone, as he had just ended his call with her when he approached officers. .

Neither CBP nor the FBI, which oversees all tribal land shooting investigations, have said what Mattia launched. They did not respond to a request for comment on why none of the relatives were interviewed, when the body camera video would be released or if Border Patrol knew if Mattia had called them earlier in the day. day before they arrived at his house.

The incident could further erode the trust between Border Patrol and the Tohono O’odham Nation.

“My uncle didn’t deserve to die like this,” Yvonne Nevarez, Mattia’s niece, told The Arizona Republic. “After this happened, we feel like we can’t trust [the Border Patrol] to come when there are problems.

According to someone close to Mattia, who rushed to the scene of the shooting, a Tohono O’odham police officer prevented family members from seeing her body. She said the officer told them to go home but family members told the officers they should stay with their brother and bless his body. She said they didn’t see Mattia until he was in a body bag on his way to the medical examiner. The Tohono O’odham Police Department did not respond to a request for comment on why the family was unable to see Mattia.

“We said goodbye while he was in a body bag,” the relative said. “The elders said it was very disrespectful.”

By the next morning, the relative said, the entire crime scene tape around Mattia’s house had been removed, but no officer or law enforcement officer came to speak with the family about what happened. had passed.

“It looked like the whole investigation was over,” the relative said. “But no one ever came to talk to us.”

Last weekend, the family staged two protests outside border patrol posts in Tucson and near the Tohono O’odham Nation Reservation to demand answers about Mattia’s death.


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