Another Rock-Throwing Incident at the Border Ends in Death

After another incident involving a U.S. Border Patrol agent fatally shooting a suspect, possibly for throwing a rock at an officer, the San Diego ACLU calls for a full and open investigation. This latest incident occurred this morning in the Otay mountains southeast of San Diego, according to news reports. While the facts are not yet known in this case, the ACLU believes that the policy and practice of the Border Patrol should be to de-escalate violent incidents as much as is possible, and use non-lethal force whenever possible. The news reports indicated that the officer sustained minor injuries for which he was treated at the scene.

Despite the massive influx of Border Patrol agents in our communities, there has been an utter lack of transparency into Border Patrol shootings. At times, Border Patrol has published information about these incidents, as in the 2010 killing of Anastasio Hernandez Rojas, that video evidence subsequently showed to be false. It is imperative that the agency behave honestly and transparently as to this latest incident.

The ACLU continues its call for independent oversight of federal law enforcement agencies and transparency to the investigation of these fatal shootings. The current system still allows investigating agencies and prosecutors to conceal the facts surrounding the incident and refrain from disclosing whether the use of force was justified.

In an open and democratic society, our government’s actions need to be transparent. If Border Patrol authorities believe a shooting was justified, the public should be able to judge whether the facts add up. Incidents should not be covered up because disclosing the facts might embarrass an agent or an entire agency.

The San Diego ACLU has been calling for reform of the Border Patrol’s use of lethal force policies and practices for nearly a decade, but the agency has refused to implement certain recommendations issued by an independent police practices foundation; it recommended that the agency stop responding to rock throwing with deadly force.

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