Border Patrol To Limit Use Of Deadly Force Against Rock Throwers
by: Eyder Peralta, NPR, March 7, 2014 3:03:00 pm
U.S. Border Patrol announced on Friday that it is changing its policy on using deadly force against moving vehicles and people who throw rocks.
The agency's chief, Michael J. Fisher, sent a memorandum to employees in which he said the policy is designed to help agents avoid dangerous situations.
This is an about-face for the agency.
As we reported, an independent review of 67 cases involving deadly force, found that agents sometimes deliberately stepped in front of moving vehicles to justify shooting and also fired at people throwing rocks from the across the Mexican border out of frustration.
The panel recommended that the agency limit the use of force in those two situations, but the agency declined.
At the time, Fisher said that those kinds of policies were "problematic" and could "potentially put Border Patrol agents in danger."
Today, Fisher announced two changes:
-- Agents should not discharge their weapons against a moving vehicle, unless it poses a deathly threat. For example, if a person is aiming the vehicle at an agent. The new policy also tells agents not to use their body to block a vehicle's path, nor should they fire at a vehicle fleeing from agents.
-- Agents should not fire at people throwing projectiles, unless they fear death or serious injury. Still, the new policy states, agents should avoid "placing themselves in positions where they have no alternative to using deadly force." That means they should seek cover or put greater distance between them and the aggressors.
The agency is also developing an update to the "Use of Force Handbook."
"It is anticipated that these initial steps will help reduce the likelihood of assaults against our agents," Fisher wrote.