June 17, 2017 – Use of Force Incident at Calexico, California
On June 17, 2017, four Border Patrol Agents from the Calexico Border Patrol Station were attempting to apprehend two subjects near the International Border Fence in Calexico, California.
The subjects had crossed into the U.S. by climbing the border fence and were attempting to evade apprehension by wading into the nearby New River. Two of the agents on the west side of the river were giving commands to the subjects to get out of the river, which were ignored. Two other agents were on the east side.
During the encounter, one of the agents on the east side observed a third subject climb down from the fence and move “pretty fast” toward the other agents. The agent notified the other three agents of the third subject running north, but they did not respond. The agents on the west side were watching the two subjects in the water. The agent said he then looked up and observed the third subject continue to run in the direction of the agents. There were physical barriers (a fence, a dirt berm or raised barrier and a ditch) between the third subject and the agents on the west side of the river.
Other agents monitoring the fence near the area of the New River radioed their observation of a subject who had climbed the fence, retrieved an object from the ground, and appeared to throw the object (possibly a rock). The agent said he observed the third subject kneel and pick up objects from the ground.
The agent then discharged two rounds from his CBP-issued handgun in the direction of the unidentified subject. At the time that rounds were discharged, the subject was approximately 70 yards away from the agent and 60 yards away from the other agents on the west side of the river. The subject then climbed back over the fence and fled into Mexico. No injuries were reported.
Result of the NUFRB
The National Use of Force Review Board (NUFRB) determined that the discharge of a CBP-issued handgun was not in compliance with CBP Use of Force Policy that was 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, in addition to the out-of-policy findings, made a recommendation following its consideration of this incident.
CBP Management Determination
When the NUFRB finds a current CBP employee’s actions to be inconsistent with CBP’s Use of Force Policy, the matter is referred to the CBP Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR). OPR conducts additional review and investigation as needed and generates a final Report of Investigation (ROI). The ROI is subsequently transmitted to CBP management for consideration of potential corrective action.
In this instance, based on OPR’s investigative findings and CBP management’s careful review of all relevant material, to include any information or mitigating factors raised by the agent during statutory due process reply proceedings, CBP management issued the following disciplinary action:
The agent was issued a suspension for 14 days for failure to follow CBP policy and was required to undergo remedial training.
This action constitutes the final CBP disciplinary determination. The agent may appeal CBP’s determination in accordance with applicable law and policy.