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Dec. 2, 2012, use of force incident near Sasabe, AZ

Incident Date: 
Sunday, December 2, 2012

On Dec. 2, 2012 a Border Patrol agent assigned to Tucson Sector was working alone in the Baboquivari Mountains in Southern Arizona – approximately 13 miles north of the U.S./Mexico border – when he came across two suspected illegal aliens near a trail.  This area, part of the Tohono O’Odham Nation in the Sonoran Desert, is very remote, rocky, and rugged.  There are no dwellings or other buildings within visual range. 

The Border Patrol Agent attempted to apprehend the two illegal aliens by giving them verbal commands. The two subjects were not cooperative and refused to follow commands. A struggle subsequently ensued, and suspects began to push away the Agent, and his attempts to gain physical control of them.  One of the subjects then fled, but the other tightly grasped the Agents leg with both arms, and did not let go.” 

The Border Patrol agent struck the subject on the head with his closed fist. The subject then grabbed the barrel of the agent’s service-issued M4 rifle and used it to pull the agent toward him. The subject then picked up a rock about the size of a softball and, while pulling on the agent’s rifle barrel, swung the rock at the agent. The Border Patrol agent then fired one round from the rifle, hitting the subject once in the chest.  The subject died at the scene.

Result of the NUFRB

The Department of Justice Office of Civil Rights declination was received in February 2016. On Sept. 14th, 2016 the CBP National Use of Force Review Board (NUFRB) convened to review this use of force incident. The NUFRB held a vote to determine whether the use of force was in compliance with CBP’s Use of Force Policy in effect at the time of the incident.The NUFRB unanimously determined that the agent’s discharge of his agency-issued service weapon on Dec. 2, 2012 was consistent with CBP’s Use of Force Policy in effect at the time of the incident, and that there were no issues involving potential misconduct or administrative violations.  

NUFRB Recommendations

The NUFRB made no recommendations as a result of reviewing this case.

Last modified: 
April 3, 2018