There were few details available in the immediate hours after the death of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agent Rogelio Martinez in West Texas last November. Federal officials did not say what kind of injuries Martinez had suffered, other than to say that Martinez was not shot and that he died at a hospital. Officials wouldn’t even name Martinez’s CBP partner, who was also reportedly injured but survived.
It was clearly an incident that required further investigation, but since when has Donald Trump ever waited for the facts? Martinez had been dead for just hours, but Trump went ahead and exploited the man’s death, suggesting Mexicans were to blame by tweeting that “we will seek out and bring to justice those responsible. We will, and must, build the Wall!” Except, the FBI said this week “it had found no evidence suggesting he had been attacked”:
In a statement, the Federal Bureau of Investigation said it could not find anyone who had witnessed the episode in which the agent, Rogelio Martinez, was killed besides his partner, Stephen Garland, who survived but has no recollection of what happened.
“This investigation has not conclusively determined how Mr. Martinez and his partner ended up at the bottom of the culvert and no suspects have been linked to this incident,” the F.B.I. said.
The F.B.I.’s report, which said agents had interviewed more than 650 people, came one day after the release of Mr. Martinez’s autopsy report. The El Paso medical examiner’s office found that Mr. Martinez, 36, had died of blunt injuries to the head, but could not determine the manner of death.
Initially, the FBI had has identified two “persons of interest,” but forensics couldn’t link them to the scene. Martinez’s autopsy also found a barbiturate in his system, which “can cause drowsiness and can be used along with other medications, such as acetaminophen, to treat headaches and pain.” Martinez’s girlfriend said he had been complaining about headaches but that “Roger never took anything; we had nothing at home.” The New York Times: “She thought it was possible that he could have accepted the medication from a friend or colleague without realizing how much of an effect it might have on him.”
Trump wasn’t alone in exploiting the man’s death. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Sen. Ted Cruz both called the incident an “attack,” with the latter saying that “this is a stark reminder of the ongoing threat that an unsecure border poses to the safety of our communities and those charged with defending them.” Both men, however, were silent when CBP detained 10-year-old Rosamaria Hernandez last year. And all three will be silent when it comes to apologizing for politicizing his death and correcting their suggestions that Mexicans were responsible for it.