Video Of Border Patrol Shooting Raises Questions About Disproportionate Use of Force

borderA new cell phone video “raises questions” about the claims made by the border patrol agent who shot and killed a 14-year-old boy earlier this week. The border patrol agent reportedly told authorities that he was surrounded by rock-throwers, as if to imply that he had no choice but to shoot his gun in self-defense. FBI special agent Andrea Simmons told the press that the border patrol agent “gave verbal commands to the remaining subjects to stop and retreat…the subjects surrounded the agent and continued to throw rocks at him.” However, the video captured by a cell phone on the Mexican side of the border shows a different scene:

In the distance, a U.S. border patrol officer on his bicycle can be seen making his way toward the area. Seconds later, the officer can be seen getting off his bicycle and approaching two of the four suspected Mexican nationals who had just crossed through an opening in the fence. One of the suspects is detained by the officer, but never handcuffed, and instead dragged a short distance. This happened on the U.S. side of the border.

Moments later, the officer points, what appears to be his firearm in the direction of a second suspect, standing about 60 feet away from the officer — on the Mexican side of the border. The video shows the suspect running away. Seconds later, two gunshots can be heard on the video. A third gunshot is heard in a different sequence of the tape.

Watch it:

Immediately following the shooting, T.J. Bonner, president of the National Border Patrol Council, told the Associated Press that he believes the use of “deadly force” was a justified response. “It is a deadly force encounter.” Mexico’s Foreign Ministry, along with the video, suggest otherwise. “[T]he use of firearms to repel a rock attack represents a disproportionate use of force, particularly coming from authorities who receive specialized training on the matter,” said the Mexican Foreign Ministry in a news release. The ministry also reports that the number of Mexicans who have been killed or wounded by U.S. border authorities has increased from five in 2008 to 12 in 2009 and 17 so far this year.

andreaIt’s reportedly still unclear whether the shots were fired on the U.S. or Mexican side of the border. The victims body was found 20 feet into Mexico and the wound indicates the weapon was fired from close range. If the border patrol agent did in fact cross into Mexico, he will have violated border patrol rules and could face homicide charges in Mexico. According to the witnesses, the victim did not even participate in rock throwing. The Mexican government and the victim’s family are considering taking legal actions to ensure that the border patrol agent does not escape impunity.

Andrea Christina Nill

Reposted with permission from The Wonk Room.

Published by the LA Progressive on June 12, 2010
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About Andrea Christina Nill

Andrea Nill is an Immigration Researcher/Blogger for ThinkProgress.org and The Progress Report at the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Andrea holds a bachelor’s degree from Cornell University in Political Science with a concentration in Latin American Studies and Law and Society. Prior to joining the center, Andrea was a Communications Associate at the Immigration Policy Center where she founded the blog, Immigration Impact. Andrea was also a Communications Specialist at the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), specializing in bilingual public relations. Andrea was born in Guatemala and grew up in upstate New York.