Skip to main content
Home Asia Europe U.S. World Business Tech Science Entertainment Sport Travel Weather Specials Video I-Reports
U.S. News

Interview with Jose Compean

Adjust font size:
Decrease fontDecrease font
Enlarge fontEnlarge font

(CNN) -- Former U.S. Border Patrol Agent Jose Compean is serving 12 years in prison for his role in the shooting of Osvaldo Aldrete-Davila as he ran toward Mexico.

Aldrete-Davila was wounded by Compean's partner as both agents fired shots at him after he allegedly ditched a vehicle containing more than 700 pounds of marijuana. Aldrete-Davila was granted immunity to testify against Compean and his partner, former Border Patrol Agent Ignacio Ramos.

The agents were convicted last year in the 2005 shooting incident near El Paso, Texas, and of trying to cover it up. Ramos is being held at a medium- and low-security federal facility at Yazoo City, Mississippi. Compean is serving his sentence at the Elkton Federal Correctional Institution in Ohio.

The following is a transcript of a phone interview that CNN Anchor Lou Dobbs conducted with Compean.

LOU DOBBS: If we can, let's start with how you are being treated?

JOSE COMPEAN: Very good. Actually it has been -- I have had nothing but good things to say.

DOBBS: Good.

COMPEAN: I have been treated really good here.

DOBBS: Excellent. Are you still in the general population?

COMPEAN: No. I have never have been. I have always been on the protective custody.

DOBBS: Right. And how do you spend your days?

COMPEAN: Pretty much listening to the radio and reading. And that's about it.

DOBBS: Let's talk about -- if we can, go back to that day of the incident. You struggled with the drug smuggler. Why did you fire your weapon?

COMPEAN: That was my life -- I thought my life was in danger. I saw what looked like a gun and me, I drew my weapon and fired, just like we are taught to. You see the threat, you draw your weapon.

DOBBS: And you thought you saw him draw a weapon and point it at you?


DOBBS: Why do you think the jury did not take your word and instead took the drug smuggler's word?

COMPEAN: I really don't know. I know from what we were told by our attorneys after the trial, nine of the jurors were on our side. And I know everyone has heard the jury foreman who wanted us to be guilty because he thought we were guilty. And as I remember him saying, he said he worked for the federal government and he was going to get paid -- that he was still going to receive a paycheck no matter how long it took.

And he had a fishing trip that he had planned for spring break, so he wanted to be done. And he said, I'm not going to change my vote. And I think that had a lot to do with it.

DOBBS: A lot has been made of the fact you picked up your brass (ph) and didn't report the shooting. Why did you do that?

COMPEAN: At the time I wasn't -- I mean, I wasn't even thinking, I -- to this day I don't even remember doing it. I know I saw them in my hand and that is when I tossed them. But I mean, I just -- from the training we have received to whenever we fire our weapon, we pick up our brass, possibly from being out at the range, and I had never been in that position where I thought I was going to die.

I really did. And I wasn't thinking about anything. At the time I looked down, I saw them on the ground and it just looked strange to me with the sort of -- to me it looked dirty. And I just went down. I bent down, picked them up and you know, the next thing, I look down, I had them in my hand.

I really didn't even remember picking them up. I just -- I remember tossing them.

DOBBS: You mention picking up the brass to fellow agents, did you not?

COMPEAN: I had spoken to one of them, and that was the only -- I think that was the only time from what I remember.

DOBBS: Did he say, why did you pick up the brass or question you about it?

COMPEAN: No. He didn't say anything.

DOBBS: All right. Weren't there several other agents and supervisors at the scene of the shooting?

COMPEAN: Yes. There was, I believe seven and nine people that were down there.

DOBBS: And were they aware that a shooting had taken place, as you recall?

COMPEAN: I really don't know. I was on the -- I was on the other side of the canal that -- what was said on the other side, I really couldn't say. I know for sure the -- Jonathan Richards, the special operations supervisor, was told about the assault.

Agent Ramos told him as soon as he crossed over. During the trial, all of the agents that the government put up on the stand were asked the same thing. And they all said that they were standing there when Agent Ramos told Mr. Richards about the assault. When Mr. Richards was on the stand, he completely denied it.

But about the shooting, I really don't know.

DOBBS: Do you wish you had reported that shooting?

COMPEAN: Oh, of course.

DOBBS: Why didn't you?

COMPEAN: I just -- I didn't think -- I wasn't thinking about anything at that time. I mean, I just -- you know, I figured someone would have said something because, I mean, there was -- with the number of people that were there, they had to have heard what had gone on, because Agent Ramos was the only one who crossed over that ditch to help me. And there were at least two other agents already there.

DOBBS: Why didn't they cross that ditch?

COMPEAN: I really don't know. I mean, that is the first thing you do, somebody is in trouble, you are supposed to go and back them up. Not just stand there inside the truck looking around.

DOBBS: Did you ever ask them why not?

COMPEAN: I never did. One of the agents that I saw that didn't cross over, I never really expected him to go over and help me.

DOBBS: Why not?

COMPEAN: I just -- just the type of person, the type of agent that he was. He was my trainee and I just -- I mean, I always had trouble working with him. And you try to correct someone, but I mean, you just hope that they will be there to back you up. And he wasn't.

DOBBS: You were offered several plea bargains, why didn't you accept them?

COMPEAN: Because I thought we did nothing wrong. The only thing we did, we made a mistake in not reporting it. And that was -- that should have been taken care of by the Border Patrol and not by the Mexican government.

DOBBS: All right. Do you think the Mexican government is behind your prosecution?

COMPEAN: I think so. Now I think that they were. They were somehow involved with all of the other cases that have been brought up now. It is -- I kind of see what is going on now.

I mean, even when the Border Patrol was part of INS, the big joke around, you can ask any Border Patrol agent, was that INS didn't run the Border Patrol, that the Mexican Consulate did.

DOBBS: We will do some asking around, as you put it. Have you got some other cases where you know the consulate was involved?

COMPEAN: Well, I know the sheriff's deputy -- I know that has been...

DOBBS: Heard it, yes. Heard...


COMPEAN: I have heard about his and I'm not sure about the other two agents that have been prosecuted as well.

DOBBS: I will make sure that we find out. During the prosecution's closing arguments, the prosecutor, Debra Kanof, said this: It has deteriorated so much with these two agents on the border, they are calling people of their same ethnic background Mexican blanks (ph) -- Mexican shits (ph).

And she said that you had called him that. Why do you think she said that?

COMPEAN: Just to -- she is putting up an act for the jury is the only thing I can think of. I mean, I never said that. But then again, they are taking his side. They are going off of everything he said. And he claimed to have heard me say that to him, which I never did.

But you know, with her coming out and saying that we turned on one of our own, that just goes to show the kind of she is -- she would be willing to go to.

DOBBS: She interjected ethnicity into the closing argument.


DOBBS: It is really remarkable.


DOBBS: Did he ever curse at you or -- Agent Ramos?

COMPEAN: No. He never did.

DOBBS: Did he ever say anything to you?

COMPEAN: The only time he did was when he said, (speaking Spanish), which he said, don't hit me. That was the one time he said it, in Spanish.

DOBBS: How far were you from Agent Ramos when he fired the shot that hit him?

COMPEAN: I think I was maybe five to seven feet -- he was a little bit off to the side. And he was in front of me, a little bit ahead and kind of off to the side at an angle.

DOBBS: Right. How far was the drug smuggler when Ramos shot him?

COMPEAN: I believe he was already at the edge of the river, that was about, I don't know, maybe 30 to 40 yards, he was right at the river's edge.

DOBBS: Still one hell of a shot, isn't it?

COMPEAN: Excuse me? I couldn't hear you.

DOBBS: I said, that is still one hell of a shot, isn't it?


DOBBS: Why do you think you didn't hit him?

COMPEAN: I really don't know. I mean, I remember I drew my weapon and I just -- I started firing. I mean, it looked like he was right in my sights. I mean, when I was firing, that is what was looking at. And I really don't know.

DOBBS: Did you have a sense of what kind of weapon you thought he had?

COMPEAN: It just looked like a handgun. I really couldn't tell you what kind or anything like that.

DOBBS: Homeland Security investigators told a number of members of Congress they had information that you were out to shoot some Mexicans that day. The investigators later admitted they lied to the Congress. Have you got any idea why they would say anything like that?

COMPEAN: I think it all goes back to the beginning where they were trying to get us convicted. They didn't care how they did it or how it got done. And I think with them lying to Congress, they were trying to get them to back off. And I think that is the reason they did that.

But then you go back and look at Jonathan Richards. He lied to the investigators. He got promoted. Three of the agents that testified for the government, well, two of them were fired and one resigned because he was going to get fired, as well. And I think they're just -- everybody was out trying to -- to convict us, from the beginning.

DOBBS: But Richards got promoted?

COMPEAN: Yes, he did.

DOBBS: Yes. Why do you think he got promoted?

COMPEAN: Because he testified, and he basically said what -- what, I think, what they wanted him to say. I mean, there's no other reason for him to -- for him to be promoted after lying, and every other agent that was on the stand testified to the -- not knowing about it. One of the agents standing next to me told him I yelled to him across the canal, that I had been assaulted. He testified to that, as well, during the trial.

But when he was questioned, he -- I mean, he just completely denied it.

DOBBS: Let me ask you. Are you hopeful that you're going to get either congressional or the presidential pardon?

COMPEAN: I'm not looking at that right now. I'm looking at more -- right now I'm looking more at -- at the appeal.

DOBBS: Right.

COMPEAN: And because I think that -- that will -- I think that will happen first before anything else. I think that's -- I think that's the next step, the appeal, and then, if that doesn't go through, then we have to look at that.

DOBBS: How do you feel about the support you got from the Border Patrol, the Border Patrol agents, the organization, the Border Patrol Council?

COMPEAN: We've had a lot of support from agents, individual agents. From the Border Patrol Council and from the Border Patrol itself we haven't.

DOBBS: Is that disappointing?

COMPEAN: It is, but it's kind of not surprising, because I...

DOBBS: Because what? Are you there, Paul?


DOBBS: Just a couple of other things. What would you like people to know about you and Agent Ramos and what's happened to you and how you're feeling?

COMPEAN: I just -- I want to thank everyone for all the support. It's been -- it's been tremendous and overwhelming. And I want people to know that we haven't given up, and I hope they don't give up either.

You know, I think a lot -- this case, I think, has opened up a lot of people's eyes on -- as to what's been going on. Because obviously, as we found out now, we're not the first case. And I'm hoping that our case and Deputy Hernandez' case will be the last. And I think a lot of people need to make sure to see exactly what happened. And not just with our case but all the other cases, because I think they're all linked.

DOBBS: Let me ask you one other question. Do you think there's any way to get at the bottom of why the U.S. attorney's office prosecuted so vigorously?

COMPEAN: I can't hear you.

DOBBS: I said do you think there's any way for us to get to the bottom of why the U.S. attorney's office prosecuted you, Hernandez and obviously, Agent Ramos, so vigorously?

COMPEAN: I would -- I really hope so. Like I said, because if not, this isn't going to be the last case. We're not going to be the last ones.

But I think -- I think it all goes back down to -- to the Mexican consulate, especially if you look at Deputy Hernandez' case. I know there were some -- some -- the reports I've heard and some of the articles that I received from -- from my family, there were numerous letters sent by the consulate, demanding that he be prosecuted. And I really don't know if -- if that happened with us, and I'm sure it did.

DOBBS: We have reason to believe it did. So what we're trying to do is prove what happened and did not happen.

Jose, I appreciate the opportunity to talk with you. And we're going to continue to focus on your story and -- and hope for some justice.

COMPEAN: Thank you. And I want to thank you for -- for everything you've done, too. I mean, I really -- if it wasn't for yourself, Sarah Carter (ph), one of the other reporters on KCYN, I think a lot of people would still not even know what happened. Thank you.

DOBBS: Yes, I think a lot of people are awakening.

Can I ask you a crazy question?


DOBBS: What was the temperature that day, of the shooting?

COMPEAN: It was warm. I couldn't tell you how hot. It was -- it was -- it was a very warm day.

DOBBS: I'll go back and check on it. Just curious about it.

Listen, I really appreciate it, and I wish you all the very best.

COMPEAN: Thank you.

DOBBS: Thank you, sir.

Ramos and Compean

Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean, former Border Patrol agents, are serving time for a shooting incident along the Mexican border.

CNN TV How To Get CNN Partner Hotels Contact Us Ad Info About Us Preferences
© 2007 Cable News Network.
A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines. Contact us. Site Map.
SERVICES » E-mail RSSRSS Feed PodcastsRadio News Icon CNN Mobile CNN Pipeline
Offsite Icon External sites open in new window; not endorsed by
Pipeline Icon Pay service with live and archived video. Learn more