A young father, held for ransom, was shot and killed last year in Houston by an FBI agent trying to save him. The agent had fired into a dark room where the hostage had been tied up alone. Later, Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo said the FBI agent’s story didn’t add up. “Our investigative findings do not support the description of how the shooting occurred by the shooting agent,” Acevedo said, NBC News reports. The FBI and federal prosecutors are examining whether the agent gave a false account, whether he acted negligently, and whether the pre-dawn raid by heavily armed FBI personnel was properly planned and executed. Relatives of the victim, Ulises Valladares, have filed a wrongful death lawsuit.
The Houston case is the latest in a series of incidents in which an FBI agent’s actions with a gun have come into question. It underscored what critics say is a troubling culture of secrecy at the nation’s main federal law enforcement agency. New FBI data obtained by NBC News shows the bureau found fault with the actions of agents five times in 228 shootings from 2011 to the present. Eighty-one were intentional shootings involving people or objects, 34 were intentional shootings of animals, and 113 were accidental discharges. By determining that the actions of the five agents were unjustified, the bureau was not saying that an entire shooting was unjustified. None of the five questionable shooting actions by agents led to a death. It is possible for multiple agents to have shot to death a suspect in a manner that followed all the rules, only to have one agent fire a shot that was deemed improper.