NOGALES, AZ — Marisol Garcia crossed the border illegally on June 16. She and six other women paid a smuggler to transport them to Phoenix, but were stopped by the border patrol in Nogales, Arizona.
“I was shot here,” said Marisol Garcia as she pointed to the left side of her forehead.
“The car didn’t get to go that far when I heard the border patrol sirens,” expressed Garcia.
Garcia recalls a U.S. Border Patrol vehicle blocking their car. She says the smuggler stopped, but within seconds she was shot in the head.
“I didn't even realize I had been shot until one of my friends started crying asking for an ambulance. that’s when I saw blood,” said Garcia.
Garcia was airlifted to St. Joseph's hospital in Tucson where according to records, the bullet was removed from her head.
Garcia says she was kept in custody while at the hospital, after recovering she was sent to the Florence Correctional Center and then deported back to Mexico.
“I don't know what type of surgery they did, I wasn't given any medical records, not even my deportation paperwork,” stated Garcia.
It wasn't until recently that with the help of the consulate of Mexico in Tucson that Garcia was able to receive a copy of one medical record.
With the help of nonprofit organizations based in Arizona, Garcia was able to pay for a neurologist in Mexico City.
“They told me I have fragments of metal from the bullet still in my head and that there's a 70 to 100% chance I will suffer epileptic seizures throughout my life,” stated Garcia.
ABC15 reviewed her medical records and verified this information.
Garcia says she understands what she did was wrong. But questions why shooting at her, and why to the head?
“Why did he react like that? If they would have asked, I would have gotten out of the car and accepted my deportation, so why? Why do this to me?” questioned Garcia.
ABC15 reached out to the U.S. Border Patrol for their description of what happened.
A spokesperson directed us to a two-month-old written statement that gives few details.
On June 16, 2021, at approximately 5:07 p.m., a Border Patrol Agent assigned to the Nogales Station patrolling near Bankard and Doe Streets in Nogales, AZ was involved in a use of force incident involving a service weapon. See the full statement below. pic.twitter.com/SLR3vYSb6q— Sabri Y. Dikman (@USBPChiefTCA) June 17, 2021
They also referred us to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. In an email, the FBI responded saying:
“The FBI and U.S. Customs and Border Protection are conducting a joint investigation into the matter. No further information will be given at this time.”
According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, this use of force investigation falls under CBP'S Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR). According to CBP, "the investigation will include a comprehensive review of the incident leading to the facts and circumstances being presented before CBP’s National Use of Force Review Board (NUFRB)."
ABC15 reached out to the Nogales Police Department. The department first claimed to have no description of the event that their officers only provided security around the perimeter.
But through a public record request, ABC15 obtained a six-page police report giving us an insight into what happened that day.
The report states on June 16, Nogales P.D. was called to a shooting incident involving Border Patrol agents. It says several border patrol agents were seen providing medical care to a passenger in the backseat of a white Kia SUV.
According to the report, a Border Patrol supervisor said, “they had a fail to yield with the Kia and one shot was fired.”
“We’re essentially talking about a traffic violation that has no justification under any standard of law for an officer to shoot a civilian,” stated human rights lawyer, Andrea Guerrero.
Guerrero also questions why the Border Patrol was investigating a shooting by its own agents.
The police report shows the FBI and Border Patrol investigators were at the scene.
As far as Garcia, “I would like for them to think about it before they make a decision, in this case we were all women, but sometimes there are kids involved.”
A GoFundMe account has been set up to help Garcia with medical expenses.