EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – A Turkish national is facing federal charges for allegedly kicking and elbowing two U.S. Border Patrol agents who tried to apprehend him along the border wall in South-Central El Paso.
The incident happened at 11:30 a.m. on May 24, when a border agent only identified as J.M. spotted a group of eight individuals cross the Rio Grande illegally from Mexico, according to federal court documents. One of the individuals used a jacket to pull up barbwire placed near the river by the Texas Army National Guard.
The eight individuals advanced toward the border wall near Border Highway and South Boone Street once they circumvented the barbwire barrier. That’s when the agent called for backup and moved in with his patrol vehicle, lights flashing. J.M. exited his unit and told the group in Spanish to stop. The agent repeated his instructions in English after he realized the individuals apparently did not understand Spanish.
Seven of the eight individuals complied with the instructions in English, but the eight decided to put their arms through the steel bollard border wall and lock their arms around the metal, court documents state.
With backup on the way, agent J.M. tried to physically pull Besir Ozcelik off the border wall but was kicked in the shins twice, according to federal documents. A second Border Patrol agent identified as R.O. arrived on the scene and tried to assist J.M. in getting Ozcelik in handcuffs. The Turkish national allegedly elbowed the second agent twice.
An FBI agent who investigated the incident said in an affidavit that Agent J.M.’s pants had dirt in the areas where he was kicked by Ozcelik. Agent R.O. had “visible bruising and scratches” following the struggle with Ozcelik, the affidavit said.
The FBI agent stated Ozcelik was able to speak to a translator at the El Paso Border Patrol station in his native language. The man said he was aware that J.M. and R.O. were U.S. Border Patrol agents; he stated he “panicked” and did not understand what was happening.
The agent testified there was probable cause to believe that Ozcelik committed assault on a federal officer. The suspect remains in federal custody.
According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, 353 of its agents and officers have been assaulted from Oct. 1, 2022, through April 30, 2023, nationwide. A total of 693 agents and officers came under attack in fiscal year 2022. The most common type of assault is the use of physical force against an agent, followed by rock-throwing and trying to strike them with a vehicle.