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Family of Tohono O'odham man killed by Border Patrol says more questions remain after DOJ meeting

The Department of Justice says it won’t pursue charges against Border Patrol agents who fatally shot a Native American man on tribal land earlier this year. Now, his family says they still have questions about the Department of Justice's investigation. 

Body-camera footage shows agents and a tribal police officer surrounding Tohono O'odham tribal member Raymond Mattia outside his home in the tribal community of Menagers Dam along the U.S.-Mexico border. He's seen surrendering a sheathed knife to law enforcement in the video. A flurry of gunshots ring out moments after agents tell Mattia to remove his hands from his pockets and raise his arms. A report from the Pima County Medical Examiner's Office shows he was shot nine times in the legs, arms and torso. He was unarmed. 

This month, a Justice Department spokesperson  said the agency's investigation into the incident determined the shooting did not violate state or federal criminal law. 

Attorney Ryan Stitt is representing the family.

"What was really missing from our perspective in the meeting with the Justice Department was any detail, factual detail, about what led them to reach that conclusion," he said. "The family would like to know. what agencies or law enforcement entities, the people who shot Ray work for, and the Justice Department would not answer that question."

Stitt says Justice Department representatives would not answer questions during a meeting with the family — including those about how the investigation was carried out, who investigators spoke to, even who shot Mattia and how many times. 

"The meeting with the Department of Justice I think was conclusory, and it gave them an opportunity to say that they've met with the family and advised them in person of their decision, but it, it did not offer the family a meaningful opportunity to get basic questions that they have about what happened to their loved one and why," he said. "We view that as really hard for the family emotionally, it impedes their ability to recover."

A Justice Department spokesperson declined to comment on the family meeting. 

Alisa Reznick is a senior field correspondent covering stories across southern Arizona and the borderlands for the Tucson bureau of KJZZ's Fronteras Desk.