Oct. 20, 2015, use of force incident at Calexico, CA
On Oct. 20, 2015 at 2357 hours (11:57 p.m. PST), a CBP officer (CBPO) assigned to the Calexico, CA Port of Entry was about to open a vehicle inspection lane. The iron gate at the entrance to the inspection lane was ajar just enough to permit an officer to enter. The partially closed gate indicated to travelers that the lane was not yet open for vehicle traffic.
The CBPO was logging into the computer at the booth for the inspection lane when he encountered a male subject who approached the lane on a bicycle. The CBPO exited the booth and approached the man, who was trying to enter through the ajar gate. The officer explained to the man in Spanish that he could not proceed through the gate. The man ignored the officer’s command to stop and tried to proceed through the partially closed gate. The officer attempted to stop the man by grabbing a hold of the man’s arm. The man produced a knife from the area of the bicycle’s handlebars. The knife’s blade measured approximately eight inches. The CBPO pushed the man away and then stepped back to avoid being struck by the knife. The man continued approaching the officer in an aggressive manner while threateningly brandishing the knife. The officer drew his service weapon and retreated from the man, who continued his aggressive approach with the knife. The CBPO fired his service weapon, but the man did not react and continue to advance towards him. The CBPO fired a second round, but the man continued to advance towards him with the knife. The CBPO then fired third and fourth shots in quick succession, striking the man in the chest. The man fell to the ground; he and the knife were subsequently secured. Despite CBP personnel on the scene administering lifesaving measures until paramedics arrived just a few minutes later, the man died.
In a later review of the incident, it was determined that the man, who did not possess documents to permit him entry into the U.S. at the time of the incident, had been arrested on five separate occasions by U.S. Border Patrol agents for attempted illegal entry. He had also been arrested in Mexico after injuring someone with a knife. The medical examiner who performed the autopsy stated that the man had methamphetamine in his system at the time of his death.
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 as investigated. The NUFRB unanimously determined that the CBPO’s application of force via his service weapon on Oct. 20, 2015 was consistent with CBP’s Use of Force Policy in effect at the time of the incident, and that there were no issues involving potential misconduct or administrative violations.
The NUFRB is mandated to review and report on potential improvements to policy and training; however, the NUFRB made no formal recommendations following their consideration of this incident.