Saturday, October 13, 2012

Border Patrol's Deadly Response to Rock-Throwing from Mexican Side

The Los Angeles Times, unlike the timid local daily papers in Arizona, is following up on the disturbing story of Border Patrol agents riddling a teenager's body with bullets, when that teenager was in a group of rock-tossing Mexicans on the other side of the international border at Nogales.

From today's Los Angeles Times report (Emphasis mine): "Under agency guidelines, repelling rock attacks with bullets can be regarded as a justifiable use of force in part because rocks have inflicted serious injuries on agents. But critics have grown increasingly vocal at the frequency of such incidents and what they call a lack of transparency in follow-up investigations. Wednesday's confrontation was the third incident since September; at least 15 civilians have died in agent-involved confrontations since 2010."

Not addressed yet, and it won't be addressed cogently unless the national media pay attention to this dismaying story that the local daily media are evidently afraid to touch: Why couldn't Border Patrol agents simply have retreated to a spot where the rocks could not reach them, given that the assailants were unable to advance (being on the Mexico side of the border)?

--Also, how many shots did the Border Patrol fire? The dead youth's body was hit with eight gunshots, Mexican authorities said, while at least a dozen more bullets hit a medical building nearby on the Mexican side.

--Also, what was the specific threat that the Border Patrol agents say they responded to? Again, throwing rocks at someone is a crime -- a local crime. Firing wildly across an international border is an international incident, whatever the other questions of manslaughter and inadequate training.

--Also, see the Los Angeles Tiomes story linked to above, which refers to the dead 16-year-old as the "suspected smuggler." There is no attribution for that, and no indication from the reporting that the dead youth was in fact a "suspected smuggler" (though he may have been, of course). In which casse, the crime location was on the Mexican side of the border, Mexican law enforcement was the legal authority, and the question still remains about the use of deadly force, which seems to have included a hail of bullets.  However, from the facts as they have currently been presented, it appears that the 16-year-old was part of a small group of people who tossed rocks at the agents across the border fence. -- in response to what would have been the Border Patrol agents' legitimate attempts to capture on this side, or repel, the actual smugglers who tossed a bundle of what seems to have been marijuana across the fence.

Again, why couldn't the agents have simply retreated from the rocks? Who gave the order to fire?

Less sloppy reporting is required here, on a sensitive topic.


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