April 19, 2016 – Use of Force Incident on the Tohono O’Odham Nation Reservation in Arizona
On April 19, 2016, Border Patrol Agents from the Casa Grande Border Patrol Station were tracking a group of suspected drug smugglers in a remote area of the Tohono O’Odham Nation Reservation in Arizona.
When the group of suspected smugglers was spotted, they ran in different directions. The agents on scene split up and gave chase. One agent, who was on horseback, observed one subject trying to hide in a mesquite thicket. When the agent gave commands in Spanish for the subject to come out, he ran away and hid again in the mesquite trees a short distance away. This happened approximately five times in and around the immediate area.
Eventually, the subject ran into an area where he was no longer in the mesquite trees. When the agent located the subject there, the subject stood up, waved his arms overhead, and yelled profanities at the agent. At that point, the subject was approximately 10 feet away from the agent and they were facing each other. The subject then picked up what appeared to be a softball-sized rock and held it in his hand at his side.
Despite repeated commands to drop the rock and get on the ground, the subject kept yelling profanities at the agent, and then cocked his arm back in a throwing motion. The agent then discharged two rounds from his CBP-issued handgun at the subject. The subject paused for a split second and threw the rock at the agent, only just missing his head. The subject was not hit by either of the fired rounds.
The subject then ran away again and attempted to hide. The agent gave chase, and, within a few seconds, the subject stopped and was held at gunpoint until other agents arrived. The subject was taken into custody without further incident.
Result of the NUFRB
The CBP National Use of Force Review Board (NUFRB) determined that the application of force was in compliance with CBP Use of Force Policy in effect at the time of the incident.
Consistent with the mandate to review and report on potential improvements to policy and training, the NUFRB made a formal recommendation following their consideration of this incident.