The father of Brawley native Justin Tackett, the Border Patrol agent named in a wrongful death lawsuit for shooting and killing a woman in Chula Vista late last month, describes his son as a “good person” and “conscientious worker.”
The younger Tackett has had his time as an Imperial County sheriff’s deputy called into question, raising concerns whether he was ever fit to be on the streets, according to the lawsuit filed by the deceased woman’s family.
Gary Tackett of Brawley, Justin’s father, dismisses those questions.
“He’s always been a conscientious worker ... it’s just — you get things out there that are getting twisted around by people who are intentionally trying to use emotions,” the elder Tackett said while talking about his son, 34-year-old Justin, a former Brawley resident who worked as a county sheriff’s deputy from January 2000 until his resignation in December 2003 following a number of suspensions.
Justin Tackett’s history is under the microscope following the Sept. 28 shooting death of 32-year-old Valeria Munique Tachiquin-Alvarado, a mother of five children.
A group of plain clothes Border Patrol agents attempted to arrest a prior deported felon at a residence in Chula Vista, where Tachiquin-Alvarado was one of several people inside.
Tachiquin-Alvarado, who wasn’t the person being sought but was on probation for a 2011 drug-related arrest, walked out of the residence and into her car as she was contacted by agents, according to the Chula Vista Police Department.
She pulled away from the curb and struck the agent — since revealed to have been Tackett — at least once with her vehicle, according to police.
While a second agent reached through the driver’s side window and tried to remove the keys, Tachiquin-Alvarado struck Tackett again, police state, and then drove with the agent on the hood of her vehicle for more than 200 yards. As this happened the agent drew his weapon and fired multiple rounds into the windshield, striking Tachiquin-Alvarado.
Amid the ongoing investigation, questions over Tackett’s time as an Imperial County deputy surfaced a little over a week ago when the family of the deceased filed a wrongful death claim against the Border Patrol, claiming Tackett had a history of misconduct and shouldn’t have been on the streets.
Court documentation shows that in fact Tackett’s time as deputy was anything but smooth.
In a lawsuit filed by Tackett against Imperial County and the Sheriff’s Department in 2004, Tackett alleged he was harassed, denied promotion, discriminated against and forced to quit. However, a 2006 summary of judgment reads that Tackett “does not list specific instances or acts of discrimination on the claim.”
The same court documentation reads that Tackett was suspended two of the five times he crashed a patrol car while on duty, and faced disciplinary actions following his arrest of Brawley resident Randall Lakey in 2001.
Tackett’s wrongful termination case was dismissed without it going to trial, an action the elder Tackett says came following procedural mistakes made by Justin Tackett’s attorney.
Moreover, the elder Tackett, a former county chief deputy probation officer, said his son “was a good deputy and in any employment you are going to have things that can be looked at this way or that way by somebody else.”
Also, attacks on Justin Tackett’s past employment aren’t relevant to the situation, the elder Tackett added. “I just want people to calm down this emotion thing, and let the investigation proceed.”
Tackett said his son is “a very intelligent, very motivated person, very caring person, a family person, everybody that knows him is going to tell you that he (has) a big heart.”
Retired Imperial County sheriff’s Sgt. Pompeyo Tabarez, who is running for the Imperial Irrigation District Division 5 seat, supervised Tackett for a time.
And though court documentation notes that Tackett — then in his early 20s — had issues with supervisors, Tabarez, who supervised Tackett for about three years, said, “He was a very dedicated deputy, well knowledgeable of the law and the application of the law and very friendly.”
While describing his relationship as merely professional, Tabarez said Tackett was involved in community programs for youths and “was really in touch with the community needs.”
When asked about issues or conflicts, Tabarez responded, “Everybody complains about how you perform and whether they are happy with your performance or not. That happens to everybody, so I don’t have any specifics or recorded information that would justify making him responsible for any conflicts.
“As far as I’m concerned,” Tabarez said, “every time he worked for me we all went home without any conflict.”
Questions asked of the Department of Homeland Security regarding this incident or the department’s hiring procedures of those coming from other agencies weren’t answered.
The DHS did say in a written statement that the shooting is under investigation by the Chula Vista Police Department and that the California Border Patrol is fully cooperating in the investigation,
The FBI is also investigating the shooting.
“I can’t talk about these things because I don’t know about them,” said the elder Tackett, referring to the incident or the investigations. “My son can’t talk with me about this stuff.”
He added, “It’s an emotional thing and stressful all the way around for all families involved.”
Staff Writer Alejandro Davila can be reached at 760-337-3445 or firstname.lastname@example.org