On Oct. 2, 2014, at approximately 10 a.m., local time, Border Patrol agents assigned to Rio Grande City, Texas, Border Patrol station were patrolling the Rio Grande River in three Customs and Border Protection vessels near Escobares, Texas.
While on patrol, the agents observed three abandoned rafts on the bank of the U.S. side of the Rio Grande. One vessel approached the rafts to further investigate. As crewmembers searched the immediate area, air interdiction agents providing aerial surveillance advised the crewmembers of eight individuals running from where the rafts were located. Agents in the immediate area later found, within close proximity to the rafts, approximately 682 pounds of marijuana.
While continuing to search and assist agents in the immediate area, one of the Border Patrol vessels pulled away from the riverbank and ran aground on a sandbar in the middle of the river and was unable to free itself under its own power. A second Border Patrol vessel approached and attempted to free the vessel by towing it off the sandbar. At this time, agents on scene reported several individuals were observed swimming back into Mexico. Shortly thereafter, agents aboard the grounded vessel and the assisting vessel observed several adult males throwing rocks from about 30 feet away on the bank of the Mexican side of the Rio Grande.
Agents attempted to disperse the rock-throwing subjects by deploying two less-lethal launching devices.1 Agents launched approximately 18 projectiles toward the assailants, however the individuals continued to throw rocks at the agents.
As the agents struggled to free the boat that remained immobile, the rock-throwing assault continued. The less-lethal devices proved ineffective and also became inoperable. An agent aboard the assisting vessel, took his service-issued M-4 rifle and shot one round at the direction of the assailants. Immediately, the assailants stopped and departed the area.
Agents aboard the assisting vessel were then able to free the other vessel on the sandbar. All three vessels and crewmembers returned safely to a boat ramp approximately four miles away. There were no reports of injuries to CBP personnel or civilians. One of the vessels sustained damage caused by one of the rocks that was thrown by the unidentified assailants.
CBP led the investigation of the agent who discharged his service-issued M4 rifle.
Result of the UFRB:
On June 23, 2015, the CBP national Use of Force Review Board, representing senior officials from across CBP as well as officials from the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice, convened to review the facts as investigated. The UFRB determined the agent’s use of his M-4 rifle, Oct. 2, 2014, was in compliance with CBP’s Use of Force Policy.
Consistent with the mandate to review and report potential improvements to policy and training, the UFRB also made operational observations and policy recommendations that have been referred to appropriate operational and policy officials within CBP for consideration.
1Less lethal launching devices deploy paintball-type projectiles that contain oleoresin capsicum granules.