December 24, 2014, use of force incident in San Ysidro, CA, resulting in death
On December 24, 2014, at 3:04 p.m. local time, a male subject approached a CBP officer at a pedestrian primary inspection booth at the San Ysidro Port of Entry in San Ysidro, California.
The subject applied for entry into the U.S., but did not have any documents to confirm his identity. A CBP records check, based on information the subject had provided, identified the subject as armed and dangerous and wanted on a felony warrant for violating his condition of probation and release. The officer handcuffed the subject and escorted him to the security office where officers conducted a pat down, which revealed a package wrapped in black electrical tape around the subject’s groin area.
After removing the package, an officer directed the subject to a bench in the security office to await further processing. During that time, officers determined that the package contained 7.7 grams of heroin and two syringes that contained heroin residue. Officers continued to process the subject by running additional records checks and obtaining photos and fingerprints from him.
The subject was unrestrained as he waited in the security office while officers processed paperwork for the drug seizure and arrest warrant. Suddenly and without provocation, the subject stood up, ran toward an officer on duty behind a processing counter, jumped over the counter, and assaulted that officer by using his fists to strike the officer on the head. The officer under assault and another officer used their fists to strike the subject, as several officers arrived to help subdue the subject and help the officer. During this struggle, the subject and assisting officers fell to the floor. Officers repeatedly issued commands to the subject to stop fighting and stop resisting, but he did not comply. One officer who responded to the scene activated his electronic control weapon1 without engaging probes against the subject’s right shoulder, which had little effect. The officer then activated his electronic control weapon without engaging probes twice on the subject’s buttocks. The subject continued to actively resist the officers’ commands by throwing his arms and legs around until officers succeeded in restraining him. Shortly thereafter, the subject appeared to stop breathing. Officers immediately initiated CPR and called emergency response personnel.
EMS arrived within five minutes and continued emergency care while transporting the subject to Sharps Chula Vista Hospital, where medical authorities pronounced his death at 7:57 p.m. local time. Post-mortem tests of the subject conducted by the medical examiner’s office detected methamphetamine, amphetamine, morphine, and indications of recent heroin use.
Four officers who responded to the assault sought medical treatment for minor injuries as a result of the altercation.
Result of the NUFRB
The CBP NUFRB convened December 10, 2015, to review the facts as investigated.The NUFRB determined that the application of force, including physical strikes and the use of the electronic control device by the officers December 24, 2014, was in compliance with CBP’s Use of Force Policy.
Consistent with the mandate to review and report on potential improvements to policy and training, the NUFRB also made three operational and policy recommendations that have been referred to appropriate operational and policy officials within CBP for consideration.
1 An electronic control weapon is a device that uses short-duration electronic pulses to overload a targeted muscle area, thereby impeding a person’s ability to act, with minimal risk of serious physical injury or death.