TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Editor's Note: We regret that the immigrants mentioned in this article were initially referred to as "illegal" when this article was published. We have since corrected the error to refer to the immigrants as undocumented, as has long been our policy here at KGUN.
Cochise County Attorney's Office says a border patrol agents action's in a fatal shooting involving undocumented immigrants is justified.
According to Cochise County Sheriff's Office, the incident happened on Saturday February 19th, 2022. Deputies say they were advised of a fatal shooting incident involving a United States Border Patrol Agent and a group of undocumented immigrants.
The incident happened on mile north of mile post 30 on East Geronimo Trail about 30 miles northeast of Douglas, Arizona.
In a statement from the Cochise County Attorney's Office they said, "After review of the available evidence, the agents actions appear to be justified under Arizona law."
Here is the full statement:
Cochise County Sheriff's Department
ATTN: Detective Hoke
205 N. Judd Dr.
Bisbee, AZ 85603
Via Mail/Office Facsimile
RE: State of Arizona vs. Kendrek Bybee Staheli
Dear Detective Hoke,
Thank you for providing the completed investigation in this matter. After review of
all the available evidence, Agent Staheli’s actions appear to be justified under Arizona law.
A.R.S. 13-409 and 410 govern the use or threatened use of physical force and deadly
physical force in law enforcement. Specifically, A.R.S. 13-410 provides:
C. The use of deadly force by a peace officer against another is justified
pursuant to section 13-409 only when the peace officer reasonably believes
that it is necessary:
1. To defend himself or a third person from what the peace officer reasonably
believes to be the use or imminent use of deadly physical force.
In addition, law enforcement officers are entitled to the same self-defense
protections of any other individual in Arizona. In any prosecution that involves a selfdefense claim in Arizona, the State is required to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the
conduct was not justified, rather than it being an affirmative defense with the burden on
the Defendant. There is insufficient evidence contradicting the Agent’s explanation of the
events in question to meet this high burden. Indeed, the evidence appears to support the
Agent’s version of events.
The area in which the shooting occurred is a remote, treacherous, landscape, even
during the day. Unsurprisingly, due to lack of available air assets and personnel the
evening of the shooting, the scene was secured overnight and processed the next day once
it was possible to make entry with the necessary equipment and personnel. This is notable
because it also relates to the situation which the Agents were presented with that evening.
As described in the reports, the two horse patrol agents were confronted with a
potential two on ten apprehension scenario and tracking a group in the dark through this
landscape. According to Agents Staheli and Tang, Staheli pursued Mr. Carmelo after
detaining three members of the group. No person, other than Staheli observed the physical
altercation between him and Carmelo. Staheli’s statement that he only fired after Carmelo
picked up a large rock and appeared to be ready to strike him with it is not contradicted by
any physical evidence at the scene. 1While two witnesses who have a familial relationship
indicated they heard a particularly unusual statement uttered by Staheli prior to the
shooting, no other witness reported this information and Staheli’s reported emotional state
after the shooting strongly cuts against this claim. As a result, based upon the available
evidence the shooting was legally justified and there would be no reasonable likelihood of
conviction on any criminal charge if pursued.
As always, thank you for your professionalism and service in this matter. Please let
me know if you have any questions or concerns regarding the above. Should any additional
evidence become available, please submit that information for consideration.
BRIAN M. MCINTYRE
Cochise County Attorney
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