Family sues FBI agent in shooting death of Houston hostage
HOUSTON (AP) — The family of a kidnapped man who was fatally shot during a rescue mission in Houston is suing the FBI agent who killed him.
The federal lawsuit filed by Ulises Valladares’ family alleges illegal search and seizure, and wrongful death, The Houston Chronicle reported . It seeks punitive damages as a result of Valladares’ death.
The family aims to prevent other hostages from being killed and to provide a future for Valladares’ 12-year-old son, said Randall Kallinen, one of the family’s attorneys.
The U.S. Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General is reviewing the shooting, said Christina Garza, an FBI spokeswoman.
Law enforcement raided a Houston residence Jan. 25, about a day after Valladares, 47, was taken for ransom by men claiming to be part of a Mexican cartel. Investigators have since found that the claims were made to scare Valladares’ brother into giving the men money.
An FBI agent, who has not been named, was attempting to enter the unlit home when someone grabbed his rifle, Houston police said . The agent couldn’t see who it was and fired twice, fearing that the weapon would be used against him, police said. One bullet hit Valladares, who died later at a hospital.
“Tragically and sadly, Mr. Valladares was right by that window,” said Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo. “And he was bound with his hands in front of him and taped and not able to see in the dark himself.”
But Kallinen has disputed the account, questioning how Valladares could’ve grabbed the weapon if he’d been bound at the time. The lawsuit also alleges that none of the officers identified themselves or gave Valladares time to identify himself.
The family is also suing Valladares’ alleged kidnappers for false imprisonment, assault and battery, and wrongful death.