Last month, Angel Echevarria, an off-duty Department of Homeland Security official, was arrested in Florida for pulling his gun and shooting a car that allegedly cut him off on the highway. According to police, Echevarria had absolutely no legal authority to do this. The episode was a classic “road rage” incident, and Echevarria is lucky he didn’t harm any of the passengers in the car, which included a 2-year-old child.
What’s most infuriating about this story is that Echevarria’s gun and badge should have been taken from him long before this latest incident occurred. In 2008, Echevarria changed lanes without looking and sideswiped Sean M. Davis in Northern Virginia. According to Davis and a photographer for the Associated Press who witnessed the event, Echevarria demanded Davis give him his name and insurance information but initially refused to identify himself. Davis balked when Echevarria refused to provide his own name, and at that point Echevarria flashed his gun and threatened Davis with arrest. Echevarria then went back to his car and abused his legal authority to run a criminal background check on Davis.
Soon after, Davis filed a long report on the incident with the DHS inspector general, detailing Echevarria’s dangerous behavior. Davis never heard from DHS, so a few years later Davis filed a Freedom of Information Act request to see what had become of his complaint. Davis’s FOIA request was denied on the grounds that it would reveal the identity of the person who initially filed the complaint. You read that right: DHS didn’t want to release Sean M. Davis’s personal information to Sean M. Davis. According to Davis, who wrote about the incident and his interactions with the DHS for the Daily Caller last year, he was later contacted by a private investigator who alleged Echevarria was misusing his authority to harass a client of the investigator.
Even after Echevarria nearly shot and killed someone in the road rage incident, DHS tried to cover up what happened. “Instead of turning himself in to Boca Police, Echevarria turned himself in to fellow federal agents who may have ‘worked the system’ in a way to keep his arrest record hidden,” reports BocaNewsNow.com, which had to file another FOIA request to get their hands on Echevarria’s arrest record.
As it happens, Davis has worked for Texas governor Rick Perry and Oklahoma senator Tom Coburn. He was previously the CFO of the Daily Caller and currently writes for the Federalist. Davis, in short, has influential friends in politics and the media, and he knows how the arcane disciplinary system for federal employees is supposed to work. And still, Davis was unable to get DHS to do anything to even respond to his complaint, let alone rein in a rogue officer who would seem to have no business carrying a gun. If Davis can’t get the DHS to respond, it’s a safe bet that ordinary Americans don’t have a chance at being heard.