An undocumented immigrant who was shot by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents during a traffic stop in Tennessee on Thursday while trying to flee has not been charged with a crime despite an agent claiming he was assaulted, calling into question the events that prompted the shooting.
The incident occurred after ICE officers pulled the man over during a traffic stop in Antioch, Tennessee, on Thursday morning for immigration law violations, said Bryan Cox, a spokesperson for ICE. The man tried to flee the scene in a white box truck, Cox said, and drove toward an agent who then fired two bullets at him.
The FBI was asked to investigate whether the man, who has not been officially identified, assaulted the ICE agent. The 39-year-old Mexican national was not arrested and has not been charged with a crime, said FBI Special Agent Joel Siskovic.
Advocates said the lack of arrest or charges against the undocumented immigrant, who was shot twice by the agent and later surrendered to the FBI at a hospital, at the very least calls into question the ICE agent's version of the events that led to the shooting.
Andrew Free, a lawyer for the family of the undocumented man, said the FBI didn't arrest the Mexican native when he surrendered to agents on Thursday due to a lack of evidence.
"The FBI informed me that if there had been sufficient evidence to charge him when he surrendered he would've been arrested," Free told BuzzFeed News.
Surveillance video of the incident obtained by local media showed the truck driven by the man parked in a lot when a car with flashing lights and a white pickup truck pulled up. Moments later, the truck drives off and an officer appears to raise his arm pointing at the vehicle. Officers are then seen chasing after the truck.
ICE declined to speculate about the outcome of the investigation and said that regardless of what may happen in a potential prosecution the undocumented man had a criminal record and was deported four times, making him subject to arrest by its agents at any time.
The FBI said "conclusions about the shooting incident should not be drawn until the investigation is complete."
Siskovic of the FBI said the agency doesn't arrest people until they have completed an investigation thoroughly.
Mary Kathryn Harcombe, legal director with the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition, said the undocumented man was not arrested because the FBI did not have probable cause to believe he had committed a crime.
"In a criminal case, there has to be a certain amount of proof before a suspect can be arrested and charged with a crime," Harcombe told BuzzFeed News. "In their investigation, the FBI agents simply did not find enough proof to support the ICE officers’ claim that the man assaulted them before they shot him."
The undocumented man checked himself out of a Nashville hospital Friday morning after surrendering himself to FBI agents there and being treated for two gunshot wounds.
The investigation into the alleged assault on the ICE agent is still ongoing and the FBI wants to interview the undocumented man, said Free, who declined to state the whereabouts of his client.
Cox said the undocumented man was previously convicted of domestic assault and aggravated child abuse. Davidson County court records show a conviction for domestic assault, but a separate charge of aggravated child abuse was dropped at the request of prosecutors.
Asked to clarify, Cox said he had additional criminality but declined to go into details citing privacy rules.
"The federal government’s inability to arrive at comprehensive immigration reform results in situations like what happened in Antioch this morning," Nashville Mayor David Briley, a Democrat, said in a statement. "This is exactly what we don’t want happening in our city."