ICE Agent’s Status Irks Victims’ Family After Car Crash

Luke Phillips
The family of three Imperial Valley women who were killed in a car accident after Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent Cole Joseph Dotson ran a stop sign at a high rate of speed and collided with their vehicle on a country road near El Centro in 2009.
Dotson was arraigned late last month on three charges of Vehicular manslaughter, but the families of Sandra Garcia, Patricia Martinez-Reyes and Maria Consuelo say they still don’t feel like justice is being properly served.
According to Alfredo Garcia, son of Sandra Garcia, Dotson is still on duty and working for ICE.
“I would have thought they would have stopped him from working,” Garcia said. “I don’t see how somebody can cause such a thing like that and still be working and going through life like nothing happened. It’s something that you just don’t expect.”
Dotson plead not guilty to the charges at his arraignment on Tuesday, May 31 and Garcia says he was laughing and joking as he left the courthouse.
“He’s out like nothing happened. He can wake up and go to his job and continue working,” Garcia said. “I don’t see how it’s fair to our family. If it was a citizen other than law enforcement I’m pretty sure they would have been put in jail within the first two days.”
Dotson is scheduled for a pre-trial hearing on July 12 and Garcia says he hopes all the proper steps are taken and that justice is truly served.
“We just want everything to be handled the right way,” he said. “It won’t bring my mom back, but at least it will give us a little relief knowing that there are consequences for every action you take. For him to not deal with the consequences is not fair.”
Garcia says that he’s not happy with the way ICE or the government has handled the entire case.
“We haven’t even heard or received a call from the government saying we’re sorry for your loss,” he said. “We’ve had no help from them at all.”
The families of the women ended up having to take out a loan of $14,000 to pay for funeral expenses after they asked ICE to cover the charges and were refused. Garcia says the agency told him that they couldn’t set a precedence of paying for burial expenses.
For now, Garcia says he’ll wait to see what happens at Dotson’s trial, but he also says he’ll work to tell people about what he calls the injustices he sees in the judicial system.
“I want the people to hear what really happened,” he said. “I’m not just going to stay quiet. It’s just not fair.”
An ICE Public Relations officer told the Holtville Tribune that they could not provide any comment because the case is ongoing, but they were able to confirm that Dotson is still on duty, but has been moved to administrative work and is not active in the field.