Thursday, October 18, 2012

AZMEX UPDATE 2 18-10-12


Note: flying rocks have had lethal capability for several years now.

Border Patrol use of force policy scrutinized
Source: United States News
Originally published: Oct 18, 2012 - 3:45 pm
Associated Press

PHOENIX (AP) - Government investigators are reviewing U.S. Border
Patrol policies on use of lethal force amid a spate of deadly
shootings along the border in recent years, including the killing
last week of a teenager who agents said was throwing rocks at them
from across a fence in Mexico.

Since 2010, at least 18 people have been killed by Border Patrol
agents, eight in instances where federal authorities said they were
being attacked by rock-throwers, a common occurrence along the
Mexican border, said Vicki Gaubeca, director of the ACLU's Regional
Center for Border Rights, in Las Cruces, N.M.

The probe by the Department of Homeland Security's Office of
Inspector General involves a review of accusations of brutality and
excessive force as it works to determine whether reforms have been

The review, briefly referenced in a 100-page report released this
month, was launched after 16 members of Congress expressed concern
over the 2010 death of an unarmed Mexican migrant in San Diego. They
asked the Department of Homeland Security to determine whether the
incident is "emblematic of a broader cultural problem" within the

"It is ongoing," Arlen Morales, a spokeswoman for the Inspector
General's Office, said Thursday.

She declined to comment on details of the investigation or when it
began, but noted it could take up to a year to complete.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection also would not comment, noting
only that it fully cooperates with the Inspector General's Office,
agency spokesman Michael Friel said.

In the San Diego shooting, Anastasio Hernandez, 42, died in May 2010
after being shot with a stun gun by a Border Patrol agent at the San
Ysidro port of entry. An autopsy found he died of a heart attack,
with a heart condition and methamphetamine listed as contributing

The coroner's report, citing a San Diego police detective, said
Hernandez was agitated and confrontational after he was detained by
agents while crossing the border illegally and became suddenly
violent when his handcuffs were removed.

Eugene Iredale, an attorney for the man's family, told The Associated
Press in July the U.S. Justice Department's civil rights division was
presenting evidence to a grand jury in the case amid signs that
prosecutors were considering criminal charges.

The Justice Department has declined to comment, only noting the case
remains under investigation.

It is extremely rare for U.S. border authorities to face criminal
charges for deaths or injuries to migrants. In April, federal
prosecutors said there was insufficient evidence to pursue charges
against a Border Patrol agent in the 2010 shooting death of a 15-year-
old Mexican in Texas.

In 2008, a case was dismissed against a Border Patrol agent facing
murder charges after hung juries led to two mistrials. Witnesses
testified the agent shot a man without provocation after he crossed
the border illegally near Naco, Ariz., but defense attorneys
contended it was self-defense after the Mexican man tried to hit the
agent with a rock.

The Border Patrol considers the use of deadly force against rock-
throwers generally acceptable, noting the projectiles can be deadly,
but critics of the practice claim it's an unfair fight.

"It just seems like it's over the top to use lethal force in response
to rock throwers," Gaubeca said.

Kent Lundgren, a former agent and now chairman of the National
Association of Former Border Patrol Officers, countered that rocks
can indeed be deadly.

"A rock thrown real slow will kill you just as dead as a bullet,"
Lundgren said, recounting a time in the early 1970s when he was hit
in the head while patrolling the border near El Paso, Texas.

"It put me on my knees," he said. "Had that rock caught me in the
temple, it would have been lethal, I have no doubt."

Mexican officials, meanwhile, have repeatedly decried the use of
lethal force in such cases but the denouncements have brought little
change among increasing fatalities.

Multiple wrongful death lawsuits have been filed by Mexican families
and in at least one case, a Border Patrol agent was charged with
murder in Mexico. The agent has not been extradited.

In the most recent case last week, Mexican authorities say a 16-year-
old boy was killed by an agent who shot through a border fence in
Nogales, Ariz. The Border Patrol acknowledged the agent was
responding to rock-throwing but has only said "it appeared someone
had been hit." Investigations are ongoing on both sides of the border.

A Mexican official with direct knowledge of the investigation told
the AP the boy had been shot multiple times in the back. The person
was not yet authorized to discuss details of the case and spoke on
condition of anonymity.

Mexico's Foreign Relations Department issued a statement saying it
"forcefully condemned" the shooting, calling such deaths "a serious
bilateral problem."

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