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Hsieh reports: "he Los Angeles Times obtained an internal review of US Border Patrol's use-of-force policies, which US Customs and Border Protection has refused to release publicly (members of Congress have seen a summary)."

US Border Patrol agents ride ATVs along the US-Mexico border. (photo: Reuters/Mike Blake)
US Border Patrol agents ride ATVs along the US-Mexico border. (photo: Reuters/Mike Blake)

US Border Agents Intentionally Stepped in Front of Moving Vehicles to Justify Shooting at Them

By Steven Hsieh, The Nation

02 March 14


he Los Angeles Times obtained an internal review of US Border Patrol’s use-of-force policies, which US Customs and Border Protection has refused to release publicly (members of Congress have seen a summary). While the Times did not offer the report in full, the paper did publish previously unseen snippets that portray a law enforcement agency operating under loose use-of-force standards and little accountability.

The review was completed in February 2013 by the Police Executive Research Forum, a nonprofit that develops best practices for law enforcement use-of-force policies. It examined sixty-seven use-of-force incidents by federal border agents near the US-Mexico border that resulted in nineteen deaths.

Here are some key findings of the review, revealed by the Times Thursday:

  • Border Patrol agents have intentionally and unnecessarily stepped in front of moving cars to justify using deadly force against vehicle occupants.
  • Agents have shot in frustration across the US-Mexico border at rock throwers when simply moving away was an option.
  • Border Patrol demonstrates a “lack of diligence” in investigating incidents in which US agents fire their weapons.
  • It’s questionable whether Border Patrol “consistently and thoroughly reviews” incidents in which agents use deadly force.

The report is especially scathing in its critique of agents who’ve stood in front of moving vehicles, recommending that they “get out of the way…as opposed to intentionally assuming a position in front of such vehicles.” The authors add:

It should be recognized that a half-ounce (200-grain) bullet is unlikely to stop a 4,000-pound moving vehicle, and if the driver…is disabled by a bullet, the vehicle will become a totally unguided threat… Obviously, shooting at a moving vehicle can pose a risk to bystanders including other agents.

The report recommends that Border Patrol bar agents from shooting at vehicles unless their lives are threatened and also from firing at rock throwers. An internal response by Border Patrol, also obtained by the Los Angeles Times, rejected both these recommendations. The agency said a ban on shooting at rock throwers would endanger agents because they work “in rural or desolate areas, often alone, where concealment, cover and egress is not an option,” and that a ban on shooting vehicles would empower drug smugglers to run over agents. The response echoes statements made by Border Patrol chief Mike Fisher in November.

At least twenty-one people have been killed by Border Patrol agents working on the US-Mexico border since 2010. In 2012, agents shot at a 16-year-old boy multiple times in the back, killing him. The latest fatality happened this month, when a border agent near San Diego shot and killed an undocumented migrant for throwing rocks, one of which struck the agent in the head. In all these cases, it’s unknown as to whether any of the agents involved were disciplined, as CBP does not make that information public. your social media marketing partner


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-38 # randyjet 2014-03-02 23:32
Hell why not take their guns away. That way only the BP agents will get killed or injured and the innocent drug and human smugglers will be safe from being arrested or stopped.
+26 # Used Name 2014-03-03 00:16
Can you say "Rogue?" or "Police state"?
+10 # ritawalpoleague 2014-03-03 10:12
Yep, Used Name. I say it over and over again: POLICE STATE AIN'T GREAT !
+2 # curmudgeon 2014-03-03 01:26
police officers....bor der patrol....homeowners

I'll bet they all fondle all their 'weapons'
-21 # MidwesTom 2014-03-03 07:33
The BP is there to control the border, if that takes deadly force, so be it. The border between Haiti and the Dominican Republic is patrolled by machine guns, and nobody crosses illegally. The DC is organized safe and clean, while Haiti is a disaster. Borders have a purpose.
-15 # MidwesTom 2014-03-03 10:15
Study history. Mexico was developing along the same path as the United States i the early 1900's. Mexico city was said to be equal or more advanced than New York City. However, the Mexican revolution brought all progress to a halt, and the socialist policies that followed left Mexico in the slow lane, with poverty and little development. Our open borders have allowed an escape for the more ambitious Mexicans who want to improve their lot in live by hard work (an almost forgotten principle in our cities). By our accepting these people we remove from Mexico the people that might push for change Mexico.

I will admit that in the last two years Mexico has started to privatize portions of it's oil industry, because they finally recognized that they are falling way behind in technology and they need the help. The same basic decision that China made two decades ago---let capitalism release people's ambitions and skills.

Totally closing the Mexican border might be the best thing for Mexicans.

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