Border Patrol Given New Deadly Force Guidelines After Report Shows Officers Created Dangerous Situations To Justify Opening Fire

from the bringing-a-gun-to-a-rock-fight dept

The US Border Patrol has handed down new guidelines for use of deadly force after its agents killed 19 people in 67 shooting incidents between 2010-2012.

The U.S. Border Patrol has restricted border agents’ authority to shoot at moving vehicles or at people throwing rocks, changing a controversial policy that has contributed to at least 19 deaths since 2010…

The new rules would bring the Border Patrol’s practices closer to those used routinely by the nation’s major urban police departments. They are a response, in part, to widespread complaints from immigrant advocates that border agents have shot and killed people in some cases when deadly force was not necessary to protect the lives of agents or the public.

Why did the CBP open fire on so many people? Well, it’s because agents feared for their safety. Why did they fear for their safety? Because they put themselves deliberately in that position, according to a report commissioned by the CBP and written by law enforcement experts.

House and Senate oversight committees requested copies last fall but received only a summary that omitted the most controversial findings — that some border agents stood in front of moving vehicles as a pretext to open fire and that agents could have moved away from rock throwers instead of shooting at them…

“It is suspected that in many vehicle shooting cases, the subject driver was attempting to flee from the agents who intentionally put themselves into the exit path of the vehicle, thereby exposing themselves to additional risk and creating justification for the use of deadly force,” the report reads. In some cases, “passengers were struck by agents’ gunfire.”

Judging from this, one would almost believe certain CBP agents were just looking for excuses to shoot someone. And the CBP agents’ response has been to claim that new guidelines — telling them not to stand in front of escaping vehicles and to move away from rock-throwing individuals — will somehow make the job more dangerous.

The response, marked “Law Enforcement Sensitive,” states that a ban on shooting at rock throwers “could create a more dangerous environment” because many agents operate “in rural or desolate areas, often alone, where concealment, cover and egress is not an option.”

If drug smugglers knew border agents were not allowed to shoot at their vehicles, it argues, more drivers would try to run over agents.

The authors of the report had this to say in response to the CBP’s speculative assertion (spearheaded by CBP union reps, who have stated that they will “oppose any restriction on CBP officers’ use of force”).

“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,” it says. “Obviously, shooting at a moving vehicle can pose a risk to bystanders including other agents.”

So, while the new guidance lays out some common sense rules in hopes of decreasing the number of deadly shootings, some feel it still doesn’t go far enough. The ACLU is recommending the use of body cameras to ensure each use of force is properly documented. Zoe Lofgren has called for more transparency from the agency itself, which has still refused to reveal how many officers (if any) received any sort of disciplinary action for inappropriate use of force.

The CBP obviously has transparency issues. Every effort was made to prevent this report from being made public, despite the CBP itself commissioning it. And, as we’ve covered earlier, the CBP has obscured the use of its drone “lending library” by failing to produce documents and heavily redacting those it did turn over in response to FOIA requests.

It’s one thing for these agents to defend themselves against deadly force. It’s quite another to put yourself in harm’s way simply to justify the use of deadly force (the it’s-coming-right-for-us loophole). If the agency is truly seeking to rid itself of its trigger-happy reputation, it needs to enforce these guidelines and open up its use of force track record to public scrutiny.

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Comments on “Border Patrol Given New Deadly Force Guidelines After Report Shows Officers Created Dangerous Situations To Justify Opening Fire”

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39 Comments
kenichi tanaka (profile) says:

Wow! I read the linked article which stated:

————————-

The Los Angeles Times reported last week that U.S. Customs and Border Protection had commissioned law enforcement experts to review 67 shooting incidents that left 19 people dead along the U.S.-Mexico border from January 2010 to October 2012, but then had rejected the group’s recommendations to crack down on shooting at vehicles and rock throwers.

http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-border-shootings-20140308,0,630084.story#ixzz2vasD4owb

——————————-

Seriously? You invite outside agencies to investigate the shootings/deaths and then reject the findings that are discovered? WOW. That takes some big balls.

Mason Wheeler (profile) says:

Bullets vs. cars

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

…which is why aiming for the driver is a bad idea. Shooting out the tires or the engine block, on the other hand, provides an immense force multiplier to that half-ounce bullet, making it much more likely to bring the vehicle to a stop, or at the very least to a pace that makes it incapable of escaping agents in undamaged vehicles.

JBDragon says:

Re: Re: Bullets vs. cars

Shooting at the front, you know the Radiator will punch a bunch of holes into it, causing water to be pumped out pretty fast and a over heating issue pretty quick. A few holes and that truck or whatever will be lucky to make it more then a mile or so down the road at most, so in effect it’s disabled. The people won’t get far.

Jack says:

Re: Bullets vs. cars

If only you knew what you were talking about. Ever tried shooting at an object as small as a tire that is moving at a high speed with a pistol? Try shooting skeet with a pistol. Nothing but air.

Also, shooting an engine block with a pistol round is going to do absolutely nothing. If you get lucky and hit the radiator, maybe it’ll overheat in an hour or two. When soldiers shut down a car at a roadblock, they use a 50 caliber machine gun with a bullet that has literally 30 times (or more) energy than a pistol round. Take a look at this:
http://i534.photobucket.com/albums/ee343/jonconsiglio/Forums/IMG_8362.jpg
On the left is a typical 9mm pistol round. On the right is a 50 bmg.

Mason Wheeler (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Actually, I arrived at a very different conclusion: someone ended up dead in less than 30% of the incidents. Shooting to not kill, especially in a situation where you believe your own life is on the line, is very difficult; it sounds like these guys are doing something right. (Either that or they’re just really bad shots.)

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Shooting not to kill is not something I would classify as “doing something right.” With the possible rare exception where a crack shot sniper who is not himself in danger does something like this…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AHvWaviIXsk

You don’t point a gun at anything you don’t intend to shoot and you don’t shoot anything you don’t intend to kill. Period. If your life is in danger the point is to neutralize the threat. Anything else is stupidity.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Perhaps one (unlikely) possibility is that a cop would stand in front of a vehicle, tell the person controlling the vehicle to stop, and before that person actually has the opportunity to come to a complete stop they would shoot the person driving the vehicle and then claim it was in self defense. While it is unlikely it probably wouldn’t surprise me all that much (would very much outrage me). Kinda like that video where the cops are telling that guy “STOP RESISTING” when he wasn’t resisting.

http://crooksandliars.com/2014/02/secret-video-reveals-cop-beat-defenseless

It sorta explains how the cop could accurately shoot the target, the target wasn’t quickly coming at the cop but was slowly coming to a stop making it an easier target.

btr1701 (profile) says:

Rocks

This is the most ridiculous LEO response policy. Rocks are deadly weapons. The fact that they’re primitive weapons doesn’t make them any less deadly.

How many rocks does an agent have to endure being hurled at him while he’s “moving away”?

To those on the committee who advocate this rule, why don’t you stand 10 feet from me, let me start whipping rocks at your head, and see how many hits I can score before you “move away” enough that I can’t hit you anymore.

btr1701 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Rocks

Fine. Let the cops throw rocks back, then.

That’s legally non-sensical. If you have the legal justification to use deadly force to defend yourself, then you can use any tool available to accomplish that.

If someone’s shooting at you while you’re in your car, you can use the car as a weapon to defend yourself. If someone breaks into your home a threatens you with a knife, the law doesn’t require you to only defend yourself with a knife. You can shoot the guy, you can beat him with a baseball bat, you can throw a jar of acid at him, you can use whatever you have at hand.

And on a more practical note, this new policy basically neuters and renders moot the entire purpose of having border guards in the first place. When the illegals learn that all they have to do to get the Border Patrol to back off is chunk a rock at them– that the BP is required to run away when that happens– then every attempted interdiction will result in rock-throwing and retreat by the BP and the illegals will just waltz on in. Might as well just throw open the borders and let anyone wander on in rather than enforce the laws of the U.S. Sounds suspiciously like the exact goals of the open-borders crowd, which is what’s probably the driving force behind this idiocy. Can’t get open-borders and amnesty legislation passed in Congress? Why not do an end-run around Congress, neuter the Border Patrol, and accomplish the same thing without any political fight?

Gwiz (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Rocks

If someone breaks into your home a threatens you with a knife, the law doesn’t require you to only defend yourself with a knife. You can shoot the guy, you can beat him with a baseball bat, you can throw a jar of acid at him, you can use whatever you have at hand.

Or smack the guy upside the head with a claw hammer. Like this 82-year-old gentleman did when some punk tried to break into his home. Props to Mr. Bradford for his quick reaction.

http://www.wxyz.com/news/region/detroit/82-year-old-man-hits-home-intruder-with-hammer

btr1701 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Rocks

As someone who has a concealed carry permit,
> if a kid chucks a rock at me, I don’t have the
> right to then draw my handgun and pump a few
> rounds into them.

If a group of kids started hurling lots of rocks at you (which is the situation the border guards often face), you would indeed be justified in using your gun to defend yourself.

Rekrul says:

The new rules would bring the Border Patrol’s practices closer to those used routinely by the nation’s major urban police departments.

There’s a difference?

They are a response, in part, to widespread complaints from immigrant advocates that border agents have shot and killed people in some cases when deadly force was not necessary to protect the lives of agents or the public.

Again, there’s a difference?

Anonymous Coward says:

“The CBP obviously has transparency issues. Every effort was made to prevent this report from being made public, despite the CBP itself commissioning it. And, as we’ve covered earlier, the CBP has obscured the use of its drone “lending library” by failing to produce documents and heavily redacting those it did turn over in response to FOIA requests. “

As taxpayers we have every right to those documents (unredacted). You have no right to prevent the release of documents just because – especially not because – those documents contain information that may embarrass you. In fact that is the exact reason those documents should be released. RELEASE THE DOCUMENTS!!!!

Anonymous Coward says:

> Well, it’s because agents feared for their safety.

WTF has happened to America’s police over the past decade or so? It’s like they’ve all become a bunch of pussies, and now instead of protecting EVERYONE ELSE, like their job SHOULD require, they think of themselves FIRST.

That’s why you get so many situations where the cop shoots first and asks questions later…you know, for their “safety”.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

I blame the laws, it shows precisely why you shouldn’t operate on the basis of belief when deadly force is involved. Especially without reason-ability clauses. If feared for your life is an excuse regardless of absurdity then suddenly cowards get impunity.

Taken to the natural conclusion a spree shooter with anxiety issues could be excused because they feared for their life because they were afraid everyone was going pull out a gun and shoot them or curse him to a wasting death from using the evil eye.

btr1701 (profile) says:

Re: Re:

That’s why you get so many situations where
> the cop shoots first and asks questions
> later…you know, for their “safety”.

If it’s a question between my safety and some shitbag whipping rocks at me, or shooting at me, or whatever the hell they’re trying to do to me, you better believe I?m going to consider my safety paramount over theirs.

btr1701 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

That whole “serve and protect” thing is
> about serving and protecting themselves.

That whole “serve and protect” thing is actually just the motto of one department– the LAPD. No one in law enforcement ever claimed it to be universal in its application.

If I had dime every time some wannabe internet lawyer told me I was “violating my oath to serve and protect the public”, who then slunk away when I quoted the actual oath I took and pointed out that nowhere does it say anything about serving or protecting the public, I could buy that beach house in Hawaii I’ve always wanted.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Gee, I wonder why the public would think you were there “to protect and serve” since it is literally on the vehicle you drive everyday. What gullible chumps you must run into, thinking you are there to protect their rights, and serve the public who is paying your salary? I am sure the transformation that occurs as you painfully make people aware of the true extent of your power and authority just makes you sleep like a baby each night. It is all for the best though as you educate these ignorant masses to the new reality of their status. We can have all the rights we want, as long as they don’t affect your perceived rights. Once you get angry, the punches are “justified” because they should know how to act when being arrested. Since they are just offenders though, it doesn’t really matter what happens to them, since they are guilty of something, even if you don’t know what it is yet.

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