HOUSTON – Family members of a kidnapping victim who was shot and killed by an FBI agent during a botched 2018 attempt to rescue him, filed a lawsuit against the FBI Thursday.
Ulises Valladares, 47, was kidnapped in January 2018 and was being held at a home on Elbert Street in northeast Houston. A woman was guarding him and there was a child in the home. When federal agents attempted a raid of the home to rescue him, Valladares was shot and killed by an FBI agent.
Nearly two years after the deadly shooting, Valladares’ sister and his 12-year-old son are suing the FBI. They claim the bureau is trying to cover up mistakes made during that raid. Brooke Pearce, Valladares’s sister and her attorney, Randall Kallinen, said they believe the wrongful death lawsuit is the only way they will ever get their questions answered, including the name of the FBI who shot and killed their loved one.
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What the lawsuit claims
After an 11-month investigation into the botched raid, the U.S. Attorney’s Office declined to proceed with federal criminal charges. The family says they spent months trying to contact the FBI but received no response and so they decided to file a civil suit against the agency.
“No records have been produced. It’s all been secret," said Kallinen in a press conference Thursday. “This should not be a secret. This should be open.”
The only piece of information the family says it’s received is Valladares’ autopsy report. Houston police initially said Valladares grabbed the agent’s rifle and began pulling on it as authorities entered the house. Kallinen said the autopsy shows Valladares was not only tortured extensively by his captors before he was shot and killed, but there was also no evidence of close-range firing on the skin.
“These were supposed to be the good guys. They are supposed to have the training," Peace said. “They are supposed to have the backing to know how to handle circumstances like this and it’s just been covered up.”
FBI reaction to the lawsuit
A spokesperson with the FBI told KPRC 2 it cannot comment because of the pending litigation.
Valladares’ family has already begun the process of requesting documents with the aim of getting the name of the FBI agent who shot and killed Valladares. One of Valladares’ captors has been sentenced to life in prison. Three others are awaiting trial. A scheduling conference for this case will likely take place in the next three to four months. The family also previously sued the FBI agent involved in Valladares’ death.