The Norman Transcript

Nation/World

February 19, 2014

Border Patrol agent kills man near San Diego

SAN DIEGO — A U.S. Border Patrol agent fatally shot a man Tuesday after the agent was struck in the head with a rock, authorities said, fueling debate over whether the agency overreacts to rock assaults by suspected smugglers and migrants.

The agent was trying to stop a group of people suspected of crossing the border illegally from Mexico when the man who threw the rock at the bottom a 75-foot ravine was shot, San Diego County sheriff’s Lt. Glenn Giannantonio said. The man was pronounced dead at the scene after first-aid efforts failed.

The agent declined to be treated at a hospital for an injury that the sheriff’s lieutenant described as minor. The agent and the man who was shot 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. four miles east of San Diego’s Otay Mesa border crossing, occurred 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 nonprofit group that led a government-commissioned review, has recommended that the Border Patrol and its parent agency, Customs and Border Protection (CBP), prohibit deadly force against rock-throwers and assailants in vehicles, Border Patrol Chief Mike Fisher told The Associated Press last year. CBP rejected the proposed curbs, which Fisher called “very restrictive.”

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