April 20, 2005
All seven illegal immigrants whom a Mesa Army reservist held at gunpoint agree they were ordered facedown to the ground, but their stories differ about what happened before that, according to a Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office report released Tuesday.
"They seem to be all over the place," said David Cantor, defense attorney for Sgt. Patrick Haab, who is charged with seven counts of aggravated assault for the April 10 incident.
One of the men said Haab sicced his dog on them as they emerged from the desert brush by a rest stop on Interstate 8 near Gila Bend.
Some said Haab, who served two tours in Iraq, took the keys from the Chevy Suburban in which they were sitting, while others said another man Haab summoned took the keys.
One of the immigrants, Nicolas Gutierrez-Leon, said the second man, whom authorities are still trying to find, pointed a gun Haab gave him at the group.
Vicente Gutierrez-Leon said Haab threatened to shoot while others said they never heard any threats.
Haab has said he was letting his dog relieve himself in the desert when he was rushed by the group. He acted in self-defense, he said.
Sheriff Joe Arpaio and the arresting deputy, Donald Hess, said Haab’s self-defense claims were inconsistent with statements he made to dispatchers and Hess in a cell phone call earlier in the incident.
Hess wrote that when he pointed out the inconsistency, Haab invoked his right to a lawyer.
"He’s got his story, we’ve got ours and that’s what the criminal justice system is for — to get to the bottom of this," Arpaio said.
Cantor said Haab didn’t mention the self-defense in the earlier phone calls because he "cut to the chase" in his conversations.
Besides, Cantor said, Haab’s actions were legal under Arizona’s citizen’s arrest law.
Jesus Olivera-Antonio, the driver of the vehicle that the men were running to, has been charged in U.S. District Court with a felony count of transporting illegal immigrants.
The rest of the men are in federal detention as material witnesses in Antonio’s case.