Border Patrol agents’ shootings of individuals who throw rocks at them follow “an astonishing pattern,” a report reveals.
The findings by a Justice Department official are part of a federal lawsuit brought by the family of José Alfredo Yañez Reyes, who was shot and killed by Border Patrol agents in June 2011 as he tried to flee into Mexico.
“Virtually all thrown objects fail to meet the ‘Imminent Peril’ standard to justify use of deadly force, and in such circumstances, officers are trained to take evasive or defensive action, not escalate the encounter with gunfire,” Thomas Frazier wrote in his report. … “In my experience I have never heard of, and do not know of, any law enforcement agency that considers a thrown projectile as per se ‘Deadly Force.’ …
While echoing other reports and assessments about use of force by Customs and Border Protection personnel, some of which have been made public, Frazier’s report on the Border Patrol goes further, laying specific blame and offering a stinging critique. Frazier concluded that the agency’s top leader, Michael J. Fisher, failed to act and his “indifference is not explainable.” Fisher abruptly retired in November after serving as Border Patrol chief since 2010.
The New York Times Magazine, meanwhile, has a gripping story surrounding the circumstances that led to the shooting of an unarmed teen, José Antonio Elena Rodríguez, who was killed in Nogales, Mexico, by a Border Patrol agent standing on the Arizona side. Those agents, too, claimed the teenager had been throwing rocks that endangered officers. But serious doubts have been cast on that account:
Before the autopsy report was publicly released, official accounts of José Antonio’s death had already begun to unravel. A person merely had to stand at the stretch of border fence where the shooting occurred and take in the view. That particular section of fence is 20 feet tall, but it sits on a rocky cliff, and the drop into Mexico from the base of the fence is another 25 feet. From Calle Internacional, hurling rocks over the top of the fence — or through the narrow gaps between the slats, which are only three and a half inches wide — would seem to be all but impossible. ‘‘It’s abundantly clear,’’ [James F. Tomsheck U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s internal affairs office chief], who eventually visited the site with the F.B.I., says, ‘‘that there was no potential for José Antonio to have thrown any projectile from where he stood when he was shot that could cause injury on the U.S. side of the border, not even if he were a major-league baseball pitcher.’’
Perhaps it’s unsurprising, then, that local Border Patrol officers are pushing to be outfitted with body cameras that could eliminate doubts about their actions and the actions of those they interact with.
We Stand Up for You. Will You Stand Up for Us?
What's "astonishing" is that it has taken the DOJ this long to make any noise about the problem, notwithstanding the fact that they have yet to actually do anything about it.
As for Judge Weil, he should be digging a ditch somewhere, not deciding people's substantive rights from the bench, or training other judges to be as ludicrous as he is.
Enrique, there is another pattern to the boarder shootings you did not mention. People are attacking American's on American soil. Why would one attack an officer of the law with a rock for no reason, especially if the officer has a gun and is in another country? Do you think they are trying to hurt the officer?
I know many think one has the right to throw rocks at someone if they don't agree with that person. Just think if someone threw rocks at you or your family just because they don't like your articles. What would you do? Especially if that person was in another country and thought they had immunity from your country's laws.
@William Hardy That's a bit off-point, Bill. The article makes clear, at least in the Nogales shooting, that an attack almost certainly didn't happen. But even if we accept that such attacks do occur, the use of force policy makes it clear that thrown objects do NOT justify deadly force. The armed officer always has the choice to back up.