May 5, 2012, use of force incident northwest of Nogales, AZ, no injuries reported
On May 5, 2012, at approximately 6:05 a.m. local time, Border Patrol agents assigned to the Nogales Station were chasing multiple groups of individuals suspected of crossing the border illegally on foot near the Atascosa Mountains northwest of Nogales, Arizona.
An agent spotted a group of about nine individuals headed up the mountain approximately 500 feet from his position, and pursued this group while other agents were actively searching for or pursuing additional groups. The agent attempted to keep the group constantly within visual observation without closing the distance on the group. The agent was behind the group as they reached the top of the hill where the terrain was very steep and the footing was unstable. The group then appeared to be trapped against a sheer rock face. The agent then yelled in Spanish for the group to surrender, and asked if they had weapons. Once the agent moved within 25 feet of the group, individuals in the group began to throw rocks at him from their position above. One of the males in the group threw a rock described by the agent as “larger than a softball” at him.
The agent fired one round at the individual throwing the rock. At this point the group ran from view over the top of the hill and the agent retreated to a point of safety, partially back down the hill, where he radioed for support. Once backup agents arrived, it was determined that the agent was uninjured, and there were no signs that any of the individuals were injured.
The Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General and Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Office of Professional Responsibility were notified but did not initiate an investigation.
CBP led the investigation of the agent discharging his service-issued sidearm.
Result of the NUFRB
On June 23, 2015, the CBP NUFRB convened to review the facts as investigated. The NUFRB determined the agent’s use of his service issued firearm May 5, 2012, 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 two operational and policy recommendations that have been referred to appropriate operational and policy officials within CBP for consideration.