By Jesus Davila
Emailed to me January 30, 2012
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico, January 30, 2012 (NCM) – Two of the participating agents involved in the assault on the residence of Filiberto Ojeda – Commander of the Boricua Popular Army – The Macheteros – declared that the sniper [who is referred to by the pseudonym] “Brian” fired the fatal shots while the veteran guerrilla played his trumpet, according to an official report that concludes that the death was illegal and requests a reopening of criminal investigations into the matter.
The testimony, which remained in secret for more than five years and is now known due to a new report by the Commission on Civil Rights (CDC), supposedly took place at the scene where the incident took place one day after a commando unit headed by the FBI’s Hostage Rescue Team (HRT) attacked Ojeda’s house and killed him on September 23, 2005.
There existed against Ojeda an arrest warrant for the $7 million robbery of Wells Fargo that was to fund the operations of The Macheteros, and the official version of the incident is that as agents arrived on the scene, Ojeda opened fire first against the agents, hitting three of them, one of which needed surgical attention. According to this version, “Brian” fired his shots after seeing Ojeda once again point his 9mm handgun, but this was placed in doubt when it was learned that the sniper’s position prevented him from seeing Ojeda.
This uncertainty has led to speculation that he had used a thermal scope, but this was not among the weaponry that was reported to have been used.
The new evidence would establish that “Brian” pointed his rifle in the direction of the sounds of the trumpet being that he could not see Ojeda. It is also indicative of the fact that the sniper and other agents within the perimeter knew at that moment that the fugitive did not represent a threat being that his hands were occupied with the musical instrument rather than pointing a gun.
The information is contained on pages 128 and 129 of the 238 page report submitted by the CDC regarding the deadly incident, after the Office of the Inspector General of the FBI absolved the agents of the HRT that took part and after Puerto Rico’s Department of Justice closed the case after not finding evidence of “negligent homicide”.
The new report, however, concludes that the contingent of the FBI-HRT, without documented justification, arrived on the scene shooting and that Ojeda opened fire in self-defense with a handgun against a group of attackers that fired more than 100 shots with automatic rifles in just under two minutes. The report also affirms that after Ojeda was injured there was sufficient opportunity to offer him medical assistance and save his life, but instead the team opted to let him slowly bleed to death.
The next day, the FBI allowed entry to Puerto Rico’s investigative authorities only after having moved the body using a cable, and then the body was sent to the Institute of Forensic Sciences for an autopsy. The report also indicates that what remains are important analyses to determine the hour at which he died, if the body’s position was changed in order to alter the scene, and the exact trajectory of the shots fired, among other things.
When the forensic team began their investigation that day of the 24th, they noticed that Ojeda’s trumpet, instead of being locked away inside the house as the prized possession it was, instead was lying at the foot of the rustic stairs of cement blocks and dirt at the entrance to the house.
According to the report, faced with this development, the investigative director interrogated two of the participating agents which are identified in the document. He reports that they told him that Ojeda was playing the instrument at the moment in which “Brian” shoots him and that he fell to the floor with the trumpet, which fell further to the bottom of the stairs when they pulled his body with the cable.
The forensic team took various photographs of the instrument and its location, as well as marking it as evidence. However, “Report ICF A-4622-05” does not include the trumpet as among those confiscated from the scene.
The report informs that the official’s declaration could not be corroborated because the FBI prevented the agents from being interviewed by the CDC.
For his part, Luis F. Abreu Elias, one of Ojeda’s lawyers, reported that after receiving a tip that one of the FBI agents attempted take the trumpet as a trophy, a supervisor took it away from him and had it put away. Ojeda lawyers waged a long battle to be able to recuperate the trumpet, without the FBI explaining why it held on to it if it was an object that had nothing to do with the incidents investigated.
According to that interview, the FBI never revealed that the trumpet was incriminating evidence against this “Brian”, who refused to testify based on the constitutional right against self-incrimination.
After the first volley of shots on the day of the incident, Ojeda’s wife, Elma Beatriz Rosado Barbosa, surrendered as per his instructions and before being taken away she heard her husband declare that he would surrender himself as well but to a journalist as witness. The negotiations continued for some time and, waiting on an answer that never came, must have been when Ojeda began to play his trumpet.
What tune Ojeda played is unknown. But way before that time, he had mentioned that if the FBI ever arrived at his residence to kill him, he would receive them with theSuite of the Americas, composed by Damaso Perez Prado “The Mambo King”, in homage to the “Heroic Guerrilla” Ernesto “Che” Guevara.
The report by the Civil Rights Commission, a copy of which was obtained by NCM News, recommends that the Puerto Rico Justice Department and the Division of Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice in Washington be required to investigate the case. The report is dated March 31, 2011, revised September 22, 2011, approved October 13 and certified last December 5th.