Thu, Sep 01, 2011
Prosecutor Says Helo Pilot Tried To Use Downwash To Stop
A US Department of Homeland Security pilot is accused of flying
low over the Rio Grande River in an attempt to use the downwash
from his helicopter to push two would-be illegal immigrants back
toward Mexico on December 14, 2005. One of the men in the water,
Carlos Delgadillo, a Mexican national, lost his grip on his inner
tube and drowned, according to investigators. His body was found
later that day near a bridge in Laredo, Texas.
The Houston Chronicle reports the pilot, 41-year-old James
Peters, has worked for Homeland Security since 1997, and has
recently been stations in Maine. He became a helicopter pilot in
2003. Jury selection was concluded Monday, and Prosecutor Ruben
Perez told jurors during opening statements that the pilot lied to
investigators about his role.
Thomas Berg, an attorney representing Peters, says his client
did not lie, but that there was a misunderstanding with
prosecutors. The indictment cites radio transmissions in which
Peters told a Border Patrol agent he was going to try to make the
individuals "go back."
Peters has pleaded not guilty. He could face five years in
prison if convicted.
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