Accessibility/Mobile Features
Skip Navigation
Skip to Content
Editorial News
Classified Sites

The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

U.S. Border Patrol agent fatally shoots man after being hit by rock

SAN DIEGO - A U.S. Border Patrol agent trying to stop a group of people suspected of crossing the Mexican border illegally shot and killed a man after being hit in the head with a rock, reigniting questions over whether the agency overreacts to such assaults by migrants and suspected smugglers.

The man, who threw the rock at the bottom of a ravine, was pronounced dead at the scene after first-aid efforts failed, San Diego County sheriff's Lt. Glenn Giannantonio said Tuesday.

The agent declined to be treated at a hospital for an injury that Giannantonio described as minor. The agent and the man who died were not immediately identified.

The Border Patrol said in a statement that the agent feared for his life.

Two other people in the country illegally were arrested, the Border Patrol said. Kelly Thornton, a spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney's office in San Diego, said they will not be charged with a crime.

Two Border Patrol agents on foot had separated to cut off the group, and one of the agents was hit in the face with the rock, prompting him to fire, Giannantonio said. He didn't know how many times the man was shot.

The Border Patrol said the agent was attacked with rocks, including one that hit him in the head.

The shooting, which took place about 6:30 a.m. 4 miles east of San Diego's Otay Mesa border crossing, came amid debate over whether lethal force is justified as a response to rock attacks. The Border Patrol has long maintained that rocks are deadly weapons.

The Police Executive Research Forum, a non-profit group that led a government-commissioned review, has recommended that the Border Patrol and its parent agency, Customs and Border Protection, or CBP, prohibit deadly force against rock-throwers and assailants in vehicles, Border Patrol Chief Mike Fisher told The Associated Press last year. The CBP rejected the proposed limits, which Fisher called "very restrictive."

Under current policy, agents can use deadly force if they have a reasonable belief that their lives or the lives of others are in danger.

Agents were attacked with rocks 339 times in the 2011 fiscal year, more than any other type of assault, according to the Department of Homeland Security inspector general. They responded with gunfire 33 times and with less-than-lethal force — a category that includes pepper spray and batons — 118 times.

Rock attacks fell to 185 instances in fiscal 2012, becoming the second-most-common type of assault. Agents fired guns 22 times and responded 42 times with less-than-lethal force.

The San Diego County Sheriff's Department is leading the investigation into Tuesday's shooting.

A spokesman for the union representing Border Patrol agents said he was confident the investigation would find the agent did nothing wrong.

"The easiest way to stop these incidents from happening is to stop attacking Border Patrol agents," said Shawn Moran of the National Border Patrol Council.

Mitra Ebadolahi, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of San Diego and Imperial counties, said there wasn't enough public information to say if the agent was justified but that the episode raised familiar questions about whether the Border Patrol can respond to rock attacks with nonlethal force.

She said she was troubled that there appeared to be no independent witnesses.

"It's imperative for the agency to behave honestly and transparently," Ebadolahi said.

  • Rate this Rate This Star Icon
  • This article has not yet been rated.
  • We want you to tell us what you think of our articles. If the story moves you, compels you to act or tells you something you didn’t know, mark it high. If you thought it was well written, do the same. If it doesn’t meet your standards, mark it accordingly.

    You can also register and/or login to the site and join the conversation by leaving a comment.

    Rate it yourself by rolling over the stars and clicking when you reach your desired rating. We want you to tell us what you think of our articles. If the story moves you, compels you to act or tells you something you didn’t know, mark it high.

Sort by: Newest to Oldest | Oldest to Newest | Most Popular 0 Commentscomment icon

You can comment on most stories on brandonsun.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is register and/or login and you can join the conversation and give your feedback.

There are no comments at the moment. Be the first to post a comment below.

Post Your Commentcomment icon

Comment
  • You have characters left

The Brandon Sun does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. Comments are moderated before publication. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

Brandon Sun Business Directory
Submit a Random Act of Kindness
Why Not Minot?
Welcome to Winnipeg

Social Media