EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) — A survivor to the June 25 crash in Downtown El Paso that killed seven people remains in the city for now, despite efforts to deport him.
Wilmur Gomez, a Guatemalan national, is a key witness to the alleged Border Patrol chase that preceded the deadly wreck and should be allowed to remain on hand for investigators, said his lawyer, Linda Corchado.
The El Paso Police Department is investigating the cause of the crash and the federal agency’s Office of Professional Responsibility is investigating whether the agents acted properly. Border Patrol officials publicly said the agents called off the search prior to the crash, but the witness disputes that.
“When someone is actually victimized by these policies, it’s important to speak with that person and conduct a thorough investigation to really find out what went on that date,” Corchado told Border Report.
Gomez told his lawyer that up to the moment of impact he could see the lights of the CBP vehicles behind the Chevrolet Cruze.
Gomez was scheduled to be deported on Thursday, but the El Paso County District Attorney’s Office requested a stay. Corchado said Gomez wasn’t sent to Mexico on Thursday, but that there’s still no guarantee he won’t be deported in the coming days.
The Border Patrol says its agents noticed a suspicious vehicle in an area known for human-smuggling in Sunland Park, N.M. But the agency said a supervisor called off the pursuit when the vehicle carrying 10 people got on El Paso’s West Paisano Drive.
El Paso police have not yet released conclusions of an ongoing investigation into the incident.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Texas has filed a Public Information Act request with El Paso police requesting any records or recordings regarding the incident.
“To swiftly deport a key witness in a car chase by Border Patrol that led to the death of seven people is an injustice to the El Paso community,” said Cynthia Pompa, advocacy manager of the ACLU of Texas’ Border Rights Center in an email to Border Report.
She said CBP has a “long history of abuse without any oversight” and that the El Paso DA’s office has a responsibility to uphold an independent and fair investigation into the crash.
Corchado said the chase not only resulted in the seven fatalities, but it also jeopardized innocent motorists.
“Speaking to my client, I also found out that during the chase they passed a red light and approximately seven other CBP vehicles that were chasing them also sped through that red light,” she said. “I think about my dad and how he’s elderly; if he were at either side of that light maybe he wouldn’t have hit the brakes like other people had to do to prevent a crash.”
She said it’s crucial that her client remain available to investigators and “hold people accountable.”