Congress members, activists call for probe of Border Patrol deadly force
Photo: Video by kgun9.com
Reporter: Craig Smith
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - It's not just the family of a dead teenager calling for answers about what happened on the border fence in Nogales last week---now a Congressman and border activists are getting involved.
A Border Patrol Agent fired through the fence after attackers pelted agents and police with rocks as the officers broke up a drug drop.
Agents have long said rocks are deadly force they're justified to answer with bullets. But that incident on the border fence, combined with other deaths connected to Border Patrol is leading to calls for an overall probe of how and when the Patrol uses deadly force.
To border activists like Mike Wilson of Border Action Network, the death of sixteen year old Jose Rodriguez Elena is part of a bigger picture.
Wilson says, "The Southern Borders Communities Coalition has documented this is the 16th Border Patrol initiated deaths over the last two years."
To Wilson, Border Patrol is an agency poorly supervised, not accountable for its actions and not transparent about rules on use of force.
Wilson says yes, rocks can produce critical injuries but bullets should be a last resort.
"Rock throwing should be met with an equal and proportionate use of force. Firing a nine millimeter round into a sovereign country, a neighbor, a friendly country of Mexico is a violation of international standards."
Incidents before Jose Rodriguez Elena died prompted sixteen members of Congress to call for an investigation of Border Patrol practices, to see if the Patrol has a culture that encouraged excessive force.
Congressman Raul Grijalva is part of that call. We asked if he thinks it's valid to regard any rock as deadly force.
He says, "There's no question as to the danger that poses. The issue we're asking about: what are the policies that start the use of deadly force and what training is in place to that account."
Now the Inspector General for Homeland Security is working on the investigation the Members of Congress requested. Congressman Grijalva wants to add Jose Rodriguez Elena's death to the probe. No word on when it will be done.
We did try to reach the President of the Union for Border Patrol Agents for his perspective. We did not hear back.
Border Patrol is referring all questions to the FBI. The FBI is not commenting, even on whether it will confirm someone was shot on the Mexico side.