by Ed Lyon
In the early 1970s, an armed team entered a Stockholm, Sweden, bank to rescue hostages being held by bank robbers, as well as to, hopefully, arrest the robbers.
To the rescuers’ shock and surprise, the hostages took up weapons with their captors to fight against their rescuers. The psychological condition the hostages had succumbed to became aptly known as Stockholm syndrome.
In January 2018, Houston, Texas, an unnamed FBI agent employed an unorthodox solution to ensure against any possibility of being resisted by the hostage he was helping to rescue. The agent stuck the barrel of his M-4 rifle in the window of the dark room where hostage Ulises Valladares lay bound on a sofa — and shot Valladares.
The agent stated that when he stuck his M-4’s barrel into the window, someone grabbed the barrel, causing the agent to fire it twice, killing Valladares, who turned out to be the room’s only occupant.
In October 2018, Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo expressed disbelief in the agent’s story. “Our investigative findings do not support the description of how the shooting occurred by the shooting agent,” Chief Acevedo publically stated.
What a shame for Valladares’ orphaned son, whose mother died from cancer last year, that the Houston Police Department is not the lead agency in this investigation. The FBI is not saying anything. It is busy investigating itself. Law enforcement leaks hint that the feds may be checking to see if the agent lied, was simply negligent in his actions, or whether the early-morning rescue raid was just ill-prepared and improperly executed.
This is only one instance of the recent buffoonish conduct by FBI agents where their firearms are involved. In June 2018, an off-duty FBI agent performed a back flip while break dancing at a nightclub. His unsecured pistol dropped, hit the floor, discharged, and a patron was hit in his leg by the bullet. The agent pleaded guilty in state court and received two years of probation. In character, the FBI is saying nothing about whether the person is still an agency employee.
The FBI, being the FBI, is seemingly accountable to no one but itself. Just as they investigate themselves, they may disclose, or as usually is the case, not disclose, statistics about shooting incidents their agents are involved in. Only after losing a Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) lawsuit to The New York Times seeking such statistics from 1993 to 2011 did the FBI produce heavily redacted information that resulted in a 2013 article for the paper. A recent, similar request to the FBI by NBC News for continuing data from 2011 to the present was met by a direction to file a FOIA request. Due to FOIA-request backlogs, it may take years for the FBI to comply. A subsequent request for expedited handling for that reason was denied.
However, in a recent ‘Do as I say, not as I do’ move, the FBI has embarked on a campaign to encourage local law enforcement agencies to publically disclose information on their departments’ use-of-force incidents and enter the data into a new federal database.
Sheriff Bob Gualtieri of Pinellas County, Florida, and Police Chief Gina Hawkins of Fayetteville, North Carolina, are two of the FBI video stars. They are strongly urging locals to submit to the transparency the FBI itself refuses to provide and further encourage the surrender of data to the new federal database of local use-of-force statistics and information that the FBI says it also will contribute to but has yet to make good on its word on that score, either.
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