July 7, 2012, use of force incident on the Rio Grande River near Brownsville, TX
On the morning of July 7, 2012, two Border Patrol agents assigned to the Fort Brown Border Patrol Station in Brownsville, Texas were each in separate marked government vehicles on patrol along the levee approximately one-quarter mile east of the Veterans International Bridge on the Rio Grande River. A subject began throwing rocks at the agent’s vehicle before fleeing into the brush in the direction of the river. The agent driving that vehicle requested assistance via radio. The other agent responded, and one of the subjects struck his vehicle’s windshield with a rock, causing the glass to crack. The agent exited the vehicle and attempted to apprehend the subject, who was still on the U.S. side of the river. He ordered the subject to stop throwing rocks, but the subject failed to comply and threatened to throw another. The agent fired one round from his service-issued rifle in an effort to stop the threat. The subject was not hit and fled south towards the river. A third Border Patrol agent arrived on the scene to assist the other two agents. That agent observed a subject on the Mexican side of the river in a shooting stance pointing an object that appeared to be a firearm in the direction of the Border Patrol agents, and he fired one round at that individual. A Supervisory Border Patrol agent reported via radio that a subject had been hit on the Mexican side of the river and requested emergency medical assistance. Additional Border Patrol agents arrived on the scene and secured the area. The Government of Mexico later reported that the man was taken to a local hospital in Mexico, and pronounced dead. A total of 11 undocumented aliens were apprehended in the immediate area of the incident. CBP’s Use of Force Incident Team (UFIT) was not activated during this shooting incident as the UFIT was not a functioning component at the time.1
Result of the NUFRB
On June 16, 2016, the CBP NUFRB convened to review the facts as investigated. The NUFRB unanimously determined that the application of force via the service weapons used by the agents on July 7, 2012 was in compliance with CBP’s 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 also made two operational observations and two policy recommendations that have been referred to appropriate officials within CBP for consideration.
1 In the interest of transparency, the NUFRB has reviewed cases such as this one that pre-date the launch of the NUFRB and the UFIT process.