ICE agent pulled gun on free­way, woman says

Driver ac­cuses plain­clothes of­fi­cer of point­ing weapon at her in road rage case.

Los Angeles Times - - OBITUARY NOTICES - By Lyn­d­say Wink­ley lyn­d­say.wink­ley@sdunion­tri­ Wink­ley writes for the San Diego Union-Tribune.

SAN DIEGO — An ap­par­ent case of road rage prompted a fed­eral agent to point a gun at a woman as she was driv­ing on In­ter­state 15 with her 2-year-old son in the back seat, the woman said.

Cal­i­for­nia High­way Pa­trol of­fi­cers in­ves­ti­gat­ing the July 6 in­ci­dent iden­ti­fied the man in­volved as a plain­clothes U.S. Im­mi­gra­tion and Cus­toms En­force­ment agent. The fed­eral agency said in a state­ment Thurs­day that it was “co­op­er­at­ing fully” with the in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

“ICE holds its per­son­nel to the high­est pro­fes­sional stan­dards and has zero tol­er­ance for em­ploy­ees who vi­o­late the pub­lic’s trust,” spokes­woman Lau­ren Mack said.

Feli­cia Ocampo, 31, of Es­con­dido said she was on her way home from a camp­ing trip when she no­ticed a sil­ver Ford Fo­cus com­ing up fast be­hind her.

The driver started tail­gat­ing her, she said, so she sped up to get away from him. Be­fore long, the two mo­torists were weav­ing in and out of traf­fic. At one point, he boxed her in be­tween two ve­hi­cles. Later, she tapped her brakes when he started tail­gat­ing her again.

Both cars were go­ing fast, she said.

“I didn’t know why this guy was mess­ing with me,” she said. “I was go­ing to do any­thing to get away from him. He was driv­ing er­rat­i­cally. It was like he was try­ing to harm my car or run me off the road.”

She de­cided to move over to the slow lane, in the hopes he would pass her. In­stead, he pulled along­side her. She said she rolled down her win­dow, made an ob­scene ges­ture and an­grily asked what he was do­ing.

He re­sponded by bran­dish­ing a hand­gun.

“He pointed the gun at me and said, ‘Pull ... over or I’m go­ing to shoot you,’ ” Ocampo said. She said he then put on a black Kevlar vest.

She said there was noth­ing about the Ford Fo­cus that sug­gested he was a mem­ber of law en­force­ment, but she de­cided to pull over. Af­ter he pulled up be­hind her and ap­peared at her win­dow, “I start to yell, ‘What are you do­ing? You’re scar­ing me!’ ” she said. “Then he said, ‘If you don’t shut your mouth, I’m go­ing to put my gun in it and shut it for you.’ ”

She said he ad­mon­ished her for speed­ing and told her that she was lucky he didn’t de­tain her. The man asked her for her driver’s li­cense and proof of in­sur­ance, Ocampo said, then walked back to his car. At no point did he iden­tify him­self or say what agency he was with, she said.

When the man re­turned, his de­meanor had changed. He told her it was her “lucky day,” she said, and that the emer­gency lights in his car weren’t work­ing and he didn’t have a ci­ta­tion book in his car. Then he smiled and apol­o­gized.

She said she apol­o­gized, too, and quickly drove off as he walked back to his car. Ocampo’s mother, who had lis­tened via her daugh­ter’s cell­phone as the in­ci­dent pro­gressed, called 911 soon af­ter.

CHP Of­fi­cer Jake Sanchez said it was too early to say whether charges would be filed. No one has been ar­rested.

There are oc­ca­sions in which fed­eral agents may make traf­fic stops on a high­way, Sanchez said. An agent might choose to pull some­one over if a driver is en­dan­ger­ing other mo­torists, for ex­am­ple.

Im­mi­gra­tion at­tor­ney Matt Holt said Cal­i­for­nia law lim­its the abil­ity of fed­eral agents in the state to ar­rest peo­ple for vi­o­la­tions of Cal­i­for­nia and lo­cal laws. And they do not have the ca­pa­bil­ity to write traf­fic tick­ets, he said.

He also said case law has es­tab­lished that im­mi­gra­tion agents need to have a rea­son­able sus­pi­cion that a vi­o­la­tion of an im­mi­gra­tion law oc­curred in or­der to pull some­one over.

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