March 14, 2016, use of force incident at San Ysidro, California
On March 14, 2016, at the San Ysidro, California, Port of Entry (POE), CBP was notified by the California Highway Patrol (CHP) that they were in pursuit of a stolen pickup truck southbound towards the POE on Interstate 5. CBP officers (CBPOs) were instructed to assist CHP in the apprehension of the fleeing subject. CBPOs stopped southbound traffic and CHP dispatch apprised CBP of the stolen truck’s progress as it approached the POE. Three CBP officers spotted the truck just before it would have reached the U-turn egress lane, and they approached the truck and made contact with the male driver. One of the officers (“Officer A”) initially positioned himself directly in front of the truck and pointed an agency-issued shotgun in the truck’s direction. Another officer (“Officer B”) ordered the driver to turn off the truck and place his hands in the air. The driver placed his hands in the air but refused to turn off the motor. The driver then began driving the truck forward at a speed estimated to be approximately 5-7 miles per hour. A third officer (“Officer C”) aimed his agency-issued rifle at the driver and told him to stop the vehicle, turn off the motor and exit or he would shoot. The driver ignored those instructions and continued moving forward.
The subject then stated, “No traigo nada,” or “I don’t have anything.” He then lowered his hands onto the steering wheel and turned the wheels of the truck left in the direction of Officer A, who was now standing an estimated four feet away from driver’s side front tire of the truck in the U-turn egress lane of traffic. The subject’s truck continued to advance slowly. Officer C heard the engine of the truck begin to rev and saw what he believed to be another CBPO standing directly in front of the moving truck. He lowered his rifle to the rear driver’s side of the truck and fired one round into the tire. At the same time, Officer A fired one round from his shotgun at one of the front tires of the truck, causing it to deflate. The driver continued to advance the truck. Officer A fired another round at the truck’s engine, but the driver then accelerated and maneuvered the truck into the southbound lane to evade apprehension. At some point during the incident, Officer A fired another round from his shotgun at the vehicle’s tire. The pickup truck then collided with a government vehicle that had been placed as a barricade. The driver continued to drive towards Mexico.
A fourth CBP officer (“Officer D”), who had positioned herself approximately 500 feet south of the other three CBPOs, heard gunfire but did not know who had fired. She saw the truck approaching her location and took cover behind a civilian vehicle that she had previously stopped. Based on radio traffic regarding a high-speed vehicle pursuit, and because she had heard gunfire, Officer D believed that the pickup truck may have run over a fellow officer. She waited until the truck was adjacent to her position, broke cover, and fired one round from her agency-issued handgun at the driver because she believed he was a threat to her and to the motorists nearby.
The driver continued to drive past Officer D and took a right turn, proceeding west towards Mexico. He abandoned the pickup truck near the U.S.-Mexico international boundary line and fled on foot into Mexico. It is unknown if he sustained any injuries. CBP notified Mexican authorities and the stolen pickup truck was returned to the San Ysidro POE. No CBPOs were injured in this incident.
Result of the NUFRB
On Sept. 13, 2017, the CBP National Use of Force Review Board (NUFRB) convened to review the use of force incident. The NUFRB held separate votes to determine whether the discharge of weapons by Officers A, C, and D were in compliance with CBP’s use of force policy.
Regarding Officer A’s discharge of his agency-issued shotgun, the NUFRB determined the officer’s use of his weapon was not in compliance with CBP’s use of force policy.
Regarding Officer C’s discharge of his agency-issued rifle, the NUFRB determined that the officer’s use of his weapon was not in compliance with CBP’s use of force policy.
Regarding Officer D’s discharge of her agency-issued handgun, the NUFRB also determined the officer was not 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, in addition to the out-of-policy findings, made recommendations 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 Officers during statutory due process reply proceedings, CBP management issued the following disciplinary actions:
Officer A was issued a suspension for seven days for failure to follow CBP policy and was required to undergo remedial training.
Officer C was issued a suspension for 14 days for failure to follow CBP policy and required to undergo remedial training.
Officer D was issued a suspension for 14 days for failure to follow CBP policy and was required to undergo remedial training.
These actions constitute final CBP disciplinary determinations. Each Officer may appeal CBP’s determination in accordance with applicable law and policy.