The U.S. Border Patrol has launched an investigation into an incident recorded on video depicting a department vehicle colliding into a Native American man before speeding away. Although the federal agent activated his patrol vehicle’s lights and siren after the impact, he did not call for medical assistance or stop to help the victim.
On Thursday, Paulo Remes, a resident of the Tohono O’odham Nation, noticed a Border Patrol SUV near the village of Topowa when he began recording a video of the vehicle approaching him. Remes stood in front of the SUV and attempted to record an image of its license plate, while the agent did not appear to slow down the vehicle.
“I ran into the dirt road in front of my house, because I know they’ll try and hit me,” Remes told The Arizona Daily Star, adding that he was speaking on a landline to a cousin. “I think he saw me on the landline and didn’t think I was recording.”
Remes recorded the moment of impact as the SUV knocked him down while accelerating across the dirt road. In the video, Remes remained on the ground and could be heard saying, “They just ran me over, bro.”
When the Border Patrol agent activated his vehicle’s lights and siren, Remes initially thought that he was requesting a medical unit. But as the SUV drove off and no other units responded, Remes recalled, “What I think he did was turn on the sirens to get away from the scene of the crime.”
After the hit-and-run incident, Remes was reportedly taken to a hospital and treated for minor bruising.
The U.S. Border Patrol confirmed on Friday that the agency is cooperating with a tribal investigation, which also includes the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office. In a recent statement, the Border Patrol said, “We do not tolerate misconduct on or off duty and will fully cooperate with all investigations of alleged unlawful conduct by our personnel.”
According to a statement released by Remes’ family, they hope the video will “contribute to greater justice for O’odham families and all victims of Border Patrol violence, both inside and outside the Tohono O’odham Nation.”
Straddling the border between the U.S. and Mexico, Tohono O’odham Nation controls approximately 2.8 million acres in Arizona, which has led to frequent confrontations with the U.S. Border Patrol. According to Robert Daniels, a spokesman in Arizona for the Border Patrol, the incident remains under investigation, but the agency currently refuses to disclose the identity of the agent who struck Remes with his patrol vehicle.