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'I never purposely pointed my weapon at Elian,' federal agent says
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The federal agent who was photographed aiming his weapon in the direction of Elian Gonzalez when the 6-year-old boy was seized says he never purposely pointed his weapon at the child during the April 22 operation at the home in Miami of the boy's great-uncle.
The unnamed Border Patrol agent's detailed written account of his pre-dawn confrontation with Elian and the man holding the child, Donato Dalrymple, near a bedroom closet was one of six "after action" reports made public by the Justice Department on Monday.
"The widely published picture of this encounter depicts the search technique I was using, but it does not present a clear rendition of the entire event," said the report written by a tactical team member identified only as BORTAC (Border Patrol Tactical Unit) Team Member 3.
"While my weapon was being pointed in the general direction I was searching, I never purposely pointed my weapon at Elian Gonzalez or Mr. Dalrymple," the agent wrote. "The 'third eye' technique points the weapon in the general direction that the weapon handler is looking, and I was looking into the closet to determine whether or not a threat existed. Immediately upon determining that no threat existed in the closet, I transitioned to a defensive posture."
An executive summary released with the reports contains "debriefing results" that are consistent with claims made by Immigration and Naturalization Service and Border Patrol officials following the operation.
The reports were written based on debriefings of the six-member BORTAC unit at the agency's El Paso, Texas, headquarters from April 26 through April 29, just days after the raid.
The summary says the statements by the team members interviewed individually contain only slight variations relating to the timing of the instruction to place weapons on "safe," and descriptions of the events at the front door of the Gonzalez home.
Elian Gonzalez has been at the center of an international custody dispute since he was rescued from the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Florida in November. He was one of three survivors of a shipwrecked immigration attempt that took the lives of his mother and 10 other people.
Elian stayed with his Miami relatives until the federal agents seized him after Lazaro Gonzalez refused to turn the boy over.
The child then was reunited in Maryland with his father, who had come to the United States from Cuba for Elian. The family now is in the Washington, D.C., area awaiting the outcome of the Miami relatives' legal battle to keep Elian in the United States.
No pushing, swearing or sprays inside Miami house
Other conclusions reached during the debriefings included:
No profanity was used by team members during the operation.
No one on the team threatened to shoot anyone during the operation.
Team members made no threats to use force against anyone in the home.
Marisleysis Gonzalez, Elian's 21-year-old cousin, was not touched in any way during the operation.
No one inside the Gonzalez home was pushed to the floor during the operation.
No one inside the Gonzalez home was held to the floor during the operation.
The video cameraman inside the Gonzalez home was not touched in any way by the entry team. Contact with him was limited to one team member, who gave him a verbal command to remain seated as the team passed by the chair that the cameraman occupied.
No force was required to remove Elian from Dalrymple's arms. One team member was controlling Dalrymple with one hand placed on Dalrymple's chest, while another team member reached for Elian. Dalrymple released Elian at the same time that the team member placed his hands on Elian.
No team member struck anyone with a weapon during the operation.
No chemical irritants of any sort were deployed by the Border Patrol team that went inside the house during the operation. (That may not apply to the INS agents deployed outside the house.)
No chemical irritants were deployed inside the house by anyone during the operation. The team members are certain of this because they were not wearing gas masks.
Three doors were breached during the operation. All were determined to be locked before the breaches, and occupants were given the opportunity to open the doors.
Each team member was using an MP-5 carbine as his primary weapon. Each member was also carrying a standard-issue .40-caliber Beretta pistol, an ASP tactical baton, and an OC canister. The team members had only their MP-5 carbines in their hands during the operation.
The fire selector lever on the MP-5 depicted in photographs published by The Washington Post on April 25 is positively in the safe position. It is virtually impossible to fire the weapon either inadvertently or purposely with the selector lever in the safe position.
Miami family tells different story
Many of these conclusions have been disputed by members of Lazaro Gonzalez' family and friends present during the raid. The Gonzalez family has charged the agents with causing extensive physical damage, pushing residents in the house and intimidating them.
Elian 'fisherman' files $100 million civil rights suit against Reno, Meissner
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