US Customs and Border Protection won’t take any action against agents involved in over 60 “deadly-force” incidents from 2010 to 2012, reports Bob Ortega of the Arizona Republic:
The 67 incidents had been identified in 2013 in a scathing report on CBP’s use-of-force practices by the Police Executive Research Forum, a law-enforcement research and policy organization.
That report, commissioned by CBP, concluded that the use of deadly force in many incidents wasn’t justifiable and that the agency’s investigations weren’t thorough or careful.
But the report didn’t judge any individual cases; that was left to a CBP task force reporting to Mark Alan Morgan, a former FBI special agent appointed last summer as CBP’s acting internal-affairs chief. In September, Morgan said the task force had identified 14 of the 67 cases — including one that led to a death — as needing further review.
In a telephone interview, Kerlikowske said no charges would be brought in those cases, all of which occurred between January 2010 and October 2012.
“They were all before our new use-of-force policies were adopted last year, so we had to abide by the use-of-force policies then in existence to see if those cases were within compliance,” [CBP Commissioner Gil] Kerlikowske said. “There were around a half-dozen cases … the ones probably deemed most controversial, that are still within the purview of the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, so we couldn’t make a decision one way or another on those cases.”
Neither the Police Executive Research Forum nor CBP has released any information about which cases were reviewed in the report or by the task force.
An attorney from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) slammed the secrecy of the US Customs and Border Protection investigations:
“The fact that we still don’t know anything about any of those incidents, which makes it impossible to know whether further action would be justified or not, speaks to the continuing lack of transparency and accountability within this agency,” said James Duff Lyall, an attorney in Tucson for the American Civil Liberties Union.
“It also shows the need for real, independent oversight of this agency by the Department of Justice,” he said. “At the same time that Justice is rightly pressing local police departments to enact long-overdue reforms, they continue essentially to give a free pass to the most notoriously abusive federal law-enforcement agency, the Border Patrol.”
Several deadly-force investigations, however, remain open pending reviews from the Department of Justice.
Those include the October 2012 shooting death of Jose Antonio Elena Rodriguez, a Mexican teenager shot in the back almost a dozen times by an agent through the US/Mexico border fence.
US Customs and Border Protection has also refused to discuss specific information regarding Border Patrol checkpoints.
According to CBP, these stations — some located as far away as 50 miles from the border — are intended to apprehend undocumented immigrants and stop alleged drug flows.
But according to border communities and families, these checkpoints have instead resulted in allegations of racial profiling and harassment from agents.
To date, the Border Patrol has not released information about drugs seized or undocumented immigrants apprehended at specific checkpoints — only for checkpoints as a whole.
“Aggregate data isn’t very helpful for helping local citizenry understand whether that checkpoint is of value,” Kerlikowske said. He added that “in the future,” though he wouldn’t say precisely when, “there should be no question that we’d release, on an individual checkpoint, what’s been achieved as far as the number of people rescued or apprehended. … It would be better in the long run to release that information about what has been gained, and we will.”
The woman, a 21-year-old college student, has gained legal representation and is looking at her legal options.