The Hatewatch blog is managed by the staff of the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.

Minutemen Leader Threatens Judge Over Lethal Force Decision

By Sonia Scherr on March 13, 2009 - 1:12 pm, Posted in Nativist Extremist

San Diego Minutemen leader Jeff Schwilk has long taken pleasure in harassing immigrants.

So perhaps it’s no surprise that he wrote a vicious E-mail to supporters threatening a federal judge who ruled in favor of an undocumented immigrant killed by a Border Patrol agent.

“This judge should be immediately dragged out, arrested and sent to Gitmo for crimes against our country!” Schwilk wrote in the E-mail titled “Death Penalty for Rock Throwers.” “Or better yet, tie him to a post near the border fence in Douglas [Ariz.] and attach 10 burritos to him as bait for these innocent little Mexican rock throwers! Put a sign next to him that says, ‘I work for the U.S. Border Patrol.’ He wouldn’t last 10 minutes. Bastard!”

Along with his comments, Schwilk forwarded an Associated Press article about the ruling in a civil lawsuit brought by the victim’s family, who was awarded $350,000. According to the AP story, U.S. District Judge Raner Collins decided that the Border Patrol agent used excessive force when he fatally shot an undocumented immigrant, 22-year-old Ricardo Olivares Martinez. The shooting occurred after an agent encountered a group of undocumented immigrants near the Arizona-Mexico border in 2003. Among them was Martinez, who tossed rocks at Agent Cesar Cervantes even after he was ordered to stop. Cervantes said he responded with deadly force because his life was in danger. The judge disagreed, saying the agent “was not in imminent danger from the deceased.”

Schwilk took exception to that finding. “If an illegal alien ever throws a rock (deadly weapon) at me, he’s a dead man! Only lethal force will be used in deadly situations. This is absolutely outrageous!”

It’s not the first time Schwilk has menaced immigrants and those who associate with them. Members of his nativist extremist group have taunted immigrants at day labor sites, calling them “wetbacks” and “Julios” and their employers “slavemasters.” Schwilk once used his mini-SUV, which he outfitted with a flashing yellow light, to chase someone who hired a day laborer.

In 2007, his group was investigated in connection with the destruction of property at a migrant camp in McGonigle Canyon north of San Diego. According to a police affidavit, one migrant who lived in the canyons said the vandals chased him with knives and said, “Fuck Mexicans.”

  • Greg

    I aplologize for the typos. Blame it on my iPhone :)

  • Greg

    I’m not sure why but I’m not surprised by Jeff Schwilk’s actions and rhetoric. Sadly to say when I was in the Marine Corps, I worked for him. He came across as an introvert that you just felt you couldn’t quite trust… You felt luke he was always coming at you “sideways”, if that makes any sense. He had a hard time making eye contact and showing sincerity. I don’t know. Maybe because I am used to racists since I lived wih it daily growing up in Louisiana and because I’m black. I was the only person who reported to him and he just never had my back. He was always trying to push me put and I could never understand why. I knew him personally. This racist crap from him is NO surprise and you can quote me on that.

  • GENO

    The Sec. of State-Hillary Clinton’s visit to Mexico yesterday regarding Mexico’s narco-bloodletting and strife between 2 notorious drug cartels is the living proof that the Obama Administration is doing something to tackle this grave and dire issue concerning our border. Something that the Bush Administration and the Republifools couldn’t do! Its pure hypocrisy when the GOPsuckers claimed to be the real protectors of our border and better at defending our nation. In contrast, they actually made us less safer.

    Thanks to Obama for doing what’s best for our Southwestern border, than what the neo-Con couldn’t do!

  • GENO

    “I AM SO GLAD THAT THOSE TWO BOARDER GUARDS ARE FREE.”

    Marie, like me, you oughta be proud that those two boarder patrol agents-Ramos & Compean are nonwhite. Like me, you oughta be proud that the U.S. Boarder Patrol consist of nonwhites. These are upstanding patriotic law enforcers. The “Shadow Wolves” were good exceptions, after all, they were responsible for training half of the U.S. Boarder Agents. We need more nonwhites in our law enforcement. And his majestic heights-Mr. President Obama will boost our law enforcement and secure our southern boarder. With Barack Obama who only been in office for over 60 days now, has already shown us what he is doing to secure the boarder. A lot better than what a Republiloon Bush did in 8 years!
    As an *Independent* voter, I’m proud of Obama and these 2 true nonwhite patriotic boarder patrol agents recently freed.

  • Marie

    I AM SO GLAD THAT THOSE TWO BORDER GUARDS ARE FREE, FREE, FREE!!!!!!! THE LEFT ALWAYS PRAISES THE CRIMINALS AND PUTS DOWN THOSE WHO OBEY THE LAW…..AS FOR YOU SONIA SCHERR, YOU LEFTIES ALWAYS MISCONSTRUE THE TRUTH TO BENEFIT YOUR LIBERAL IDEAS AND PLANS…….IT IS YOU WHO IS INTOLERABLE, ESPECIALLY TOWARDS THOSE WHO SEEK TO DO THE RIGHT THING FOR THIS NATION…IF THE LEFT DOESN’T LIKE THE WAY THINGS ARE, THEN GO LIVE IN IRAN AND SEE WHAT THEY THINK OF YOUR LIBERAL IDEAOLOGY………

  • Tom

    I left one thing out——–for those of you who voted for the socialist, how is that hope and change working out for you?

    Are you out of poverty and working at a high paying job, being paid well with that stimulus 12 billion dollars AIG just sent to French, German and 10 other Foreign banks.I guess that Global Banking Elite will onsider helping you out some day.

    Has the Democratic WAR ON POVERTY now been won?

    All that money the Federal Reserve (private corporation) had printed with nothing to back it, that they loaned the Government (that should be us), and will now charge us interest that we will have to pay back on money given to themselves (bankers–AIG, Bank of America etc), all engineered by YOUR Puppet Socialist President Obama, Tres. Sec Geitner and Dodd who lied about knowing where the money would go. When the s_ _ _ hits the fan, O goes to Hollywood, Jay Leno Show, Oprah or plays ESPN Basketball Analysis. What a country, only in America wound the dumd elect a person bent on their destruction and have them applaud him as they go down the tube.

  • Tom

    The SPLC is a hate group. They hate anyone who wishes to protect the Constitution and the Freedoms of this country. These people coming into this country are INVADERS, not illegal immigrants. If you were not at the scene of that shooting, you would have no idea if Schwilk was correct in his action. It would seem that if the INVADER was shot in the back, that excessive force was used, however, there could be circumstances where Schwilk was justified. In early history, people were stoned (rocked) to death. If the rocks weren’t lethal, what killed them. Rocks have been used throughout early history as lethal weapons. I don’t remember uzis, semi-automatic pistols being mentioned in stone age history.

    As for racism, it does still exist in America. The election proved that. 96% of the blacks voted for Obama—if that is not racism, then it doesn’t exist.

  • Jack Feld

    I would like to take a good look at what Kenneth Dawson said:
    “These men are shit-eating bastards and traitors not only to their country and its constitution, but human decency. I hope they all die.”

    Is not the name of this blog, “Hatewatch”? “Keeping an eye on radicals”

    Is not hoping your neighbor dies Hate Speech in itself?

    Is not calling your neighbor, “Shit-eating bastards” Hate Speech?

    Where is the “Human Decency” in that?

    By the way, calling the members of the MinuteMen traitors…Well, that’s quite a stretch.

    The last time I looked, the constitution called for secure borders. Is that not just what these men and women stand for?

    The “real”, “decent” people on our southern border are the ranchers and towns people North of that border the Invading Hordes will rape, plunder, and murder with a moment’s hesitation.

    Ken, Eat some “real” pills, and take the “rose colored” glasses off when you look at the Real Illegal Aliens who consitiute a 30% component of the inmates of our prisons.

  • richard

    Sorry to disagree. Though I hardly support illegal anything, throwing rocks IS a lethal aggression. While not guaranteed to kill (any more than shooting is guaranteed to kill), rocks are well know to have maimed and killed, and in other jurisdictions have been found to be lethal weapons. Whether the officer responded appropriately or not I would imagine depends on his training and competence, his available resources, and the particulars of the incident. It’s hard to second-guess from this discussion. But blanket rejection of the notion of rocks as “lethal weapons” shows a tendentious disregard of reality.

  • Kenneth Dawson

    It is a global disgrace to the United States of America, which I love and have served in time of war, to have this riff raff calling themselves “Minute Men,” the name an insult to real patriots, allowed to run loose and harass and assault real decent people on our southern border. These men are shit-eating bastards and traitors not only to their country and its constitution, but human decency. I hope they all die.

  • Jack Feld

    “HATEWATCH—keeping an eye on the radical right.”

    Hmmm. Judging by your subtitle the SPLC must believe that only Right Wing conservatives are capable of hate. Well, you are lawyers. The very nature of a lawyer’s job forces him, sometimes to take the side of a criminal because; he is required, by law to defend a man who actually did commit a crime.

    I am not a lawyer. But I do know that lawyers have to be smart people and have to go to college and law school, and pass the bar in their state. In college, I am sure one of their subjects must be debate. So they are very practiced at “taking the other side in an argument”. One way to win an argument is to vilify the opponent. Criminal defense lawyers learn how to become very good at vilifying. I am sure they take a course or two in psychology. It is probable they even have studied the phenomenon of “The Big Lie: A lie that is audacious and “big” enough, told over and over again soon becomes the “New” “Truth”.

    But, usually, in a democratic republic, or a constitutional republic, not when the “Light” of “correct moral judgment is shone upon it.

    Let’s take this case and throw that light upon it. I know nothing about it other than what You, The Southern “Poverty” “Law” center has laid out:

    “The shooting occurred after an agent encountered a group of undocumented immigrants near the Arizona-Mexico border in 2003. Among them was Martinez, who tossed rocks at Agent Cesar Cervantes even after he was ordered to stop.”

    Let’s take that statement, a direct quote from the way the SPLC says it happened, and tear it down to its components.

    A single Officer of The Law encountered a group of outlaws. Don’t you agree?

    One of them “tossed rocks” at a lone officer of the law. Notice: your own rendition of the story has it that Martinez had in his possession, more than one (tossing size) rock.

    Let’s look at that for a moment. A ”toss”: to throw lightly or easily. Such as, the bride tossed her bouquet. The mourner tossed a wreath into the sea. Are we really, reasonably expected to believe that Martinez wished to strike up a game of “Rock Toss” with someone he may have hated, or feared, or, logically wished to have leave? —

    Oh, I’m sorry … Only White Middle Class mature men and Right Wing radical Law Enforcement Officers can actually hate… never let it be said that an innocent “undocumented migrant” could ever have trace of hate in his heart!

    Wait a minute. Cesar Cervantes. I don’t want to be accused of “Profiling” here, but, that name does not have the ring of “White Middle Class”. Could it be, the officer involved was not a member of a “Hate Group”?

    Let me digress just a little. How easy is it to find just the right kind of rock to throw when you want to? Even in the woods…or the desert? And, then, to find more than one at the same time? — say, to scare off a Coyote or a Mountain Lion?

    Well, in my 74 years here on earth, I must say, my experience is that I would not want to have to look for a convenient rock or two or more, that I liked the heft and balance of sufficiently well to throw them, even in jest, at the spur of the moment.

    So, I’ve got to conclude that Martinez must have chosen those rocks with intent before he encountered a target. Must have carried them with him, all the while being quite willing to use them against an adversary, not just hoping to encounter some stranger he could play “Rock Toss” with…

    Now, Martinez was with a group. He didn’t encounter the peace officer by his lonesome.

    The Peace Officer was alone. At least, your telling of the story does not include that he had a partner, or any other “Back Up”.

    After having been assaulted by Martinez, the officer asked him to stop throwing the rocks. Martinez didn’t stop.

    What could have gone on inside the head of the officer at that moment? He was confronting a group of outlaws, one of which, at least was hostile and belligerent.
    How many others in the group had rocks?

    I would have asked myself that question.
    Exactly how much danger was I in of being stoned to death by the whole group throwing in volleys?

    I would have had no time to search for rocks. I may not have been able to take cover. But, I did have my weapon. I would have done exactly what the officer in the example did: Fire my weapon toward the body mass of the attacker.

    In real life, many rounds are fired by law officers at criminals and no one is hit, or, at least killed. It is only luck, either good or bad, that a single round finds its way to cause the death of the one it is fired toward. Just as it would be only luck that would have made a rock a murder weapon.

    Officers of The Law are never expected to be crack shots like “Whitey” in “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly”, and break a rope at 100 yards with one rifle shot. They are not trained to shoot the weapon out of the hand of an attacker as the Lone Ranger often did.

    May I suggest, in future, you rename your column to something less bias and, that when you report a story, don’t whitewash the criminal element until you’re hired.

  • penny

    I know Jeff Schwilk personally also.

    Those of you on the left. . . . . do not realize that BP and Policemen actually are very frightened sometimes.

    Most of the people in the world. . . . . who get a thrill out of breaking the law. . . . are most probably very, very high on illegal drugs also . . . . . . especially amphetamines . . . . will make lawbreakers extremely brazen and fearless . . . . and they actually do not feel much of anything but aggression . . . . . . .

    It does not take much to kill a person . . . . . and being hit in the hit in just the right spot will kill you . . . . . . Natasha Richardson fell today skiing and is now brain dead and will be expired by morning. . . . . . . again . . . . just a hit in the head at the right place . . . . . and you are dead.

    Do you on the left. . . . . . not realize that???? Have you ever been to the Border? I have . . . . I am a San Diego native. . . . . . . .

    Most of you on the East Coast are sort of dreamers . . . . . . . you “romantisize” the “visual” picture of people coming over the border. . . . . . . almost all of them come here to do nefarious- illegal things.

    Why do not you leftists go down and help them improve their beautiful country . . . . . . I have friends who go down to Guatemala and build houses, schools, teach them agriculture and all sorts of stuff – I am going down to teach sewing to the young girls – taking sewing machines down there too.

    What happened to the Peace Corps mentality – you guys don’t do that anymore – you want to all be little Robin Hoods and not get your hands dirty and do the real work of “lifting up your fellow man”.

    As for Jeff Schwilk . . . . . I think some of you young men – wouldn’t know a “Lewis and Clark” type man if you ran into one – you do not know what adventure is anymore – the adventure of rebuilding in other countries – you just want to bring them here to have their hearts broken – the streets are “not in fact” paved with gold.

    The Jeff Schwilk’s of the world actually “save the lives of many men”. You guys are just jealous because you lost your nerve . . . . .you are incapable of defending others – you are only capable of robbing Peter to pay Paul . . . . . very wimpy!

    We have our own “Appalaichain poor” that we need to tend to . . . . . . .

    So you young leftist men . . . . . . if you really want to help people – help the men stay with their women and children in Mexico – instead of sneaking over here because they have nothing else to do – go down there and help them for god’s sake . . . . . . spend your own money like we do . . . . . . the women in Mexico miss them and need them – they are abandoned women.

  • Phyllis

    SPLC better be careful what it publishes. These are ” Alledge comments. I know Schwilk and he has nothing against immigrants!

    SPLC has a huge problem with the difference between ILLEGAL and Legal immigrants, they ARE NOT the same.

    This is just more BS propaganda from a group that has no legitimacy and exploits immigrants and minority groups for donations. SPLC has done nothing to fight against real hate groups like the KKK and La Raza.

  • David the Rock Thrower

    Amazing how hate can make an air-head neanderthal like Jeffy Swatziswick semi-infamous.

  • Gregory

    Why do nutters always post in mixed CASE? I assume the purpose is to ALERT us that they are INSANE.

  • Tim

    First of all you loose you crediabiity because you dont know the differance between an illegal alien from an immagrant. Please go back to school and relearn your constitution

  • Litl Bits

    Rocks – NOT A LETHAL WEAPON? Come here and let me hit you in the head with a rock or two – IF you’re still alive at the end, you tell me how “nice” a weapon is!
    This judge should be IMMEDIATELY removed from the bench! BP agents have the right to respond to lethal situations with lethal force.
    And Jeff Schwilk is a hard working AMERICAN CITIZEN who loves his country and wants it to remain A SOVEREIGN NATION!

    Just so you are aware, we have members (IN SDMM) who are LEGAL immigrants from Mexico – who are just as angered by the ILLEGALS who are stealing from us!

    Why don’t you start publishing teh TRUTH for a change? I don’t think you’d recognize it if it hit you in the head!

  • Frederick Douglass

    Why did the illegal alien throw rocks?

  • Tom

    Seems to me that the issue here is not whether rock throwing in and of itself rises to the level of a lethal assualt that justifies an officer (or citizen) to respond with deadly force. Rather the issue revolves around each set of circumstances and whether under the circumstances in question, the officer was “in imminent fear of serious bodily harm or death” or felt that someone he had a duty to protect was in imminent danger of the same.

    Without knowing the particular conditions that existed in this specific use of force situation, it is questionable to say that rocking throwing rises, or doesn’t rise, to the level of a deadly force scenario.

    How big was the rock? What was the distance between the subject and the officer? What was the physical size and capabilities of the subject to actually inflict serious bodily harm or death with a rock under these circumstances? Was the officer wearing body armor? Was the officer wearing protective headgear? Did the officer have other less-than-lethal alternatives?

    Without knowing these and many other factors, a determination cannot be made as to the reasonableness of this use of force. In our system, it is the trier of fact that has the duty to determine the reasonableness of a person’s actions when those actions result in harm to others.

    Agree or disagree, the Judge in this case was unconvinced that the officer was reasonably in imminent danger. Because the harsh consequences surrounding the decision to apply deadly force, these decisions should and always will be open to this type of legal scrutiny by the justice system.

    Blanket statements by anyone on either side of this issue that rock throwing doesn’t or doesn’t rise to the level of a deadly force event just doesn’t reflect an objective and thorough analysis of the issue.

    When those who apply deadly force have their actions evaluated by others, be they police or civil review boards, or a court of law, it will almost always come down to this:

    Did the subject have the intent, opportunity and ability to place the intended victim of the use of force reasonably in imminent fear of serious bodily harm or death?

  • Chris

    Here we go again. The Marxist SPLC calling illegal aliens “immigrants” and exaggerating and distorting the facts.

    Drone on, Lefties.

  • Raymond Acuna

    I know Jeff Schwilk, personally.
    And I am an IMMIGRANT.
    He has NEVER harrassed me, or any other IMMIGRANT.
    He does have a beef, though, with LAWBREAKERS, CRIMINALS and ILLEGAL ALIENS.
    One would expect a bunch of ambulance chasers, like the SPLC, to know the difference between IMMIGRANTS and ILLEGAL ALIENS …
    Looks like they don’t …

  • Carter

    A use of force continuum is a standard that provides law enforcement officials & security guards (such as police officers, probation officers, or corrections officers) with guidelines as to how much force may be used against a resisting subject in a given situation. In certain ways it is similar to the military rules of engagement. The purpose of these models is to clarify, both for officers and citizens, the complex subject of use of force by law officers. They are often central parts of law enforcement agencies’ use of force policies. Although various criminal justice agencies have developed different models of the continuum, there is no universal standard model. However any competent lawyer could find the use of a rock as lethal.
    So where the use of force is confronted, appropriate response is one level higher to bring compliance to law OR protect human life.

    The first examples of use of force continua were developed in the 1980s and early 1990s. Early models were depicted in various formats, including graphs, semicircular “gauges”, and linear progressions. Most often the models are presented in “stair step” fashion, with each level of force matched by a corresponding level of subject resistance, although it is generally noted that an officer need not progress through each level before reaching the final level of force. These progressions rest on the premise that officers should escalate and de-escalate their level of force in response to the subject’s actions.[This is most likely the area where the contention of the Judge's decision rests.]

    Although the use of force continuum is used primarily as a training tool for law officers, it is also valuable with civilians, such as in criminal trials or hearings by police review boards. In particular, a graphical representation of a use of force continuum is useful to a jury when deciding whether an officer’s use of force was reasonable.

    1. Physical Presence
    2. Soft Hands
    3. Mace or Pepper Spray
    (A K-9 unit would fall here)
    4. Hard Hands
    5. Police Baton, etc.
    6. Threat of Deadly Force
    7. Deadly Force

    The contention is in the findings of the Coroner. In December 2005, an autopsy revealed that a Border Patrol agent shot a man in the back who was running back across the border, because, a police press release at the time said, the man had scooped up rocks and cocked his arm to throw them at the agent. Before any investigation of that incident had been conducted, the Border Patrols spokesperson justified the shooting, saying, “If I was put in the same shoes as this agent, that’s exactly what we’d have to do.” The shot in the back is the problem from a legal standpoint. – The individual was no longer a lethal threat.

  • Carter

    This man may have had a very poor defense. What’s more there is a lot about this case that is not open to examination. The duty of an LE officer is to enforce the law. IF a group of individuals are throwing rocks or the officer is unable to adaptively protect himself (truck in a culvert, wash, blocked escape route, etc) it seems that the trowing of a rock is more than an attempt at lethal assault. It is indisputable.
    Just because the throwing of a rock is primitive does not make it any less lethal.While I disagree with the language of the respondent, I understand that this may have been a “no win” situation. To drive off, the officer may have been fired for ineffective attention to duty.
    The amount of crime in certain boarder areas is grotesque. The level of assaults, murders, rapes, & robberies especially against other boarder crossers is enormous.
    Frankly, I can’t understand why a judge would rule that rock throwing is not an attempt at the use of lethal force. I don’t think the “big picture” is being presented here.

  • GENO

    “Throwing rocks.”
    “Life threatened.”
    “Immediate danger.”

    Sorry but demostrators/protestors worldwide are known to “throw rocks”, molotov cocktails, fire crackers, eggs, smoke bombs and all kinds of crap at law enforcement officials. Tell me this Cervantas dude isn’t new on the job. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for border enforcement. But “rocks” is hardly deemed as a lethal weapon. They are not like guns. Chance of a rock thrower hitting you is 50-50 depending on the distance and size of the rock.
    Also, if he felt that his life was in any “immediate danger” as he knew the alien was unarmed, why didn’t he just shoot the alien in the arm or leg, rather than kill him entirely? Cops are trained to shoot in non vital spots on the body when the suspect is armed only with knives, rocks or some other object. To kill the unarmed suspect under these circumstances is definately an unlawful use of lethal force.

  • GENO

    Wow.
    The level of this man’s content concerning his “threatening email” is quite entertaining. I didn’t realized how retarded these racist nimrods are, I meant the leadership of the minutement movements is going downhill like a beat up box car. They’ve really gotten that low in recent times. Possibly out of desperation. These guys are worst than any legitimate organizations I know of. They make the “La Raza” look more professional.
    Also given the hypocrisy behind these groups is astounding. They claim to be for the “rule of law” yet, they make death threats to federal judges and/or officials. That itself is a federal crime. In other words, they are anti-government, obviously.