Delano police seek charges against ICE agents they say lied about deadly crash details

FILE -- Mourners gather around a memorial near the site in Delano, Calif., where two people died in a crash Tuesday, March 13, 2018, while fleeing federal immigration agents. (KBAK/KBFX photo)

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) - Delano police say they’ve asked the Kern County District Attorney’s Office to charge federal immigration agents with lying to them about the details of a pursuit and crash March 13 that left an undocumented immigrant couple dead.

Police say the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents told police officers who were investigating the crash that they weren't in pursuit of the couple when they crashed. The agents told investigators that they abandoned the pursuit after about 15 seconds and were simply following in the same direction after the couple sped away. They said they did not have their emergency lights activated.

But, police say surveillance video about a mile west of the traffic stop shows the agents in pursuit of the couple, with emergency lights activated. That video, police said Wednesday, creates "discrepancies in the statements."

There were also three eyewitnesses who saw the crash, which was roughly 1.5 miles further to the west. They all agreed that no one was chasing the couple before they crashed. They all testified that the truck was driving erratically, weaving in and out of traffic at high speeds.

Santo Hilario Garcia, 35, and Marcelina Garcia Profecto, 33, were killed in the crash. They left behind six children. While they were undocumented, they were not the agency's intended target that day.

ICE said its agents arrived at a home that morning to arrest a "previously removed Mexican citizen." They said a man matching the target's description came out of the house and drove away.

The agents later turned on their emergency lights and pulled the vehicle over. When the agents got out of their vehicle to approach the truck, the driver sped away, ICE spokeswoman Lori Haley said.

Police said the driver crashed the vehicle shortly afterward, around 7 that morning, on West Cecil Avenue. The driver went onto the dirt shoulder, lost control and flipped the SUV, police said.

Delano police said they wouldn’t comment further on their investigation, which has been sent to the DA for review. The full police news release is below. The district attorney's office confirmed Wednesday that they received Delano's request, but said they've not yet made a decision.

This report initially included information first reported by the Los Angeles Times. Those references were removed after Eyewitness News independently verified all of the information.

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