Man convicted of assaulting border agent

SAN DIEGO — Sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 8 for a man who fled from a U.S. Border Patrol agent in Tecate last year, causing the lawman to get hit in the head and arm by the side of a car.

A jury on Tuesday found John Leland Combs guilty of assaulting USBP Agent Norberto Ribac early on the morning of Sept. 2, 2017.

About 5:30 a.m. that day, Ribac, part of an all-terrain-vehicle unit patrolling in the vicinity, discovered northbound shoe prints near Tecate Port of Entry, court documents state. He followed them to Industrial Road, where he found Combs standing next to a car, talking on a cellphone a few yards north of the border fence, court documents state.

When Ribac approached him and asked if there was anybody in the vehicle with him, Combs replied that he was alone and voluntarily opened the trunk so Ribac could inspect it. Moments later, the agent noticed that Combs was walking toward the driver’s-side door of the vehicle.

Combs then got into the Hyundai Genesis — which turned out to be stolen — and started it, prompting Ribac to reach inside through the driver’s window to try to turn the engine off. At that point, Combs drove off with the agent’s upper body still inside the sedan, according to prosecutors.

As Ribac was struggled to free himself, the body of the vehicle struck him on his right elbow and the right side of his head, breaking his ATV helmet.

Other agents arrested Combs following a road and foot chase.

“This office will vigorously prosecute those who assault dedicated U.S. Border Patrol agents and endanger the public with dangerous escape maneuvers,” San Diego-area U.S. Attorney Adam Braverman said. “We will not tolerate disrespect for law enforcement and cavalier disregard for community safety.”

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