Immigrant who ran from Nassau County deputy is charged with manslaughter

Deputy Eric Oliver killed in foot pursuit of Francisco Portillo-Fuentes

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The El Salvadorian man who ran from Border Patrol and Nassau County deputies in November 2016 -- a foot pursuit that led to the death of Deputy Eric Oliver -- has now been charged with aggravated manslaughter.

In federal court in March 2017, Francisco Portillo-Fuentes, 27, pleaded guilty to a charge of illegal re-entry -- he had been deported twice before -- several months after he bolted from an immigration stop in Yulee. He was sentenced to two years in prison, then was to be deported for a third time.

"Mr. Portillo-Fuentes will think about Deputy Oliver and his family every day for the rest of his life," Assistant Federal Public Defender Mark Rosenblum wrote in a sentencing memorandum. "He wishes he had submitted to being taken into custody, rather than running away. At the instant he ran, all he was thinking about was being separated from his wife and children and the end of his dream of forging a better life for his family."

Oliver's father told News4Jax by phone on Monday that he doesn't believe that.

"I don't buy it. It's just an excuse for him to get back to his country," Douglas Oliver said. "He had every opportunity to stop the day Eric got hit."

The father said Portillo-Fuentes should have instead thought about the life he selfishly put at risk.

"He ruined not just our lives, he ruined the lives of Eric's brothers, sisters, aunts and uncles, and his daughter," Douglas Oliver said. "His daughter will never see her daddy. And she'll never get to see all the things that a daughter does with their father."

Instead of serving out his sentence in federal prison, which would be up in September, Portillo-Fuentes was transferred to jail to stand trial on state charges in Nassau County connected with Oliver's death. 

“If this person had not been in this country illegally, Eric would still be alive today," Nassau County Sheriff Bill Leeper said Monday.

The Nassau County State Attorney's Office made the decision to house Portillo-Fuentes in the Duval County jail while the case is proceeding.

IMAGES: Nassau County deputy died doing what he loved |
Nation, presidnet honor Deputy Oliver, other fallen officers

Background to tragedy

Todd Bryant, division chief for the U.S. Border Patrol's Miami Sector, said six men in a pickup truck at a Gate gas station in Yulee on Nov. 22, 2016, were investigated by Border Patrol officers. At least three were found to be foreign nationals not authorized to be in the United States. Portillo-Fuentes was in the truck with the men, authorities said.

As agents were arresting the three men and putting them in the Border Patrol vehicle, Portillo-Fuentes ran. Oliver and another deputy followed him.

Oliver was struck and killed by an SUV as he ran across A1A.

Portillo-Fuentes was arrested that night at Atlantic Self Storage on Powers Avenue at the end of a manhunt involving the U.S. Marshals Service, the Nassau County Sheriff's Office, the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office and the Florida Highway Patrol.

Court documents show Portillo-Fuentes was living near the Gator Lodge on Philips Highway and was picked up to do day labor work in Nassau County the day of the incident.

Portillo-Fuentes illegal immigration history

When Portillo-Fuentes ran that morning, he knew the system.

He deported from the United States the first time in 2011 and again sometime after an Aug. 15, 2016, conviction for DUI. He had been arrested in a traffic stop on Philips Highway at 2:15 a.m. May 15, 2016.

After he pleaded guilty to the DUI charge, he was transferred to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. According to federal court documents, he re-entered the United States a second time by wading across the Rio Grande River from Mexico to Laredo, Texas.

About the Authors:

Corley Peel is a Texas native and Texas Tech graduate who covered big stories in Joplin, Missouri, Tulsa, Oklahoma and Jacksonville, Florida before returning to the Lone Star State. When not reporting, Corley enjoys hot yoga, Tech Football, and finding the best tacos in town.