The U.S. Border Patrol has restricted agents’ authority to shoot at moving vehicles or at people throwing rocks, changing a controversial policy that has contributed to at least 19 deaths since 2010, the Los Angeles Times reports. Border Patrol Chief Michael Fisher directed agents not to stop in front of moving vehicles, nor to use their bodies to block them, in order to fire at drivers. He barred shooting at vehicles whose occupants are fleeing from agents. A deadly threat that would justify use of force does not “include a moving vehicle merely fleeing from agents,” the new rule says.
Fisher also ordered agents to seek cover or move away from rock throwers if possible and not to shoot at them unless a rock or other object poses an imminent danger of death or serious injury. The new rules would bring the Border Patrol’s practices closer to those used by the nation’s major urban police departments. They are a response, in part, to widespread complaints from immigrant advocates that border agents have shot and killed people when deadly force was not necessary to protect the lives of agents or the public. The Times reported earlier that the Border Patrol’s parent agency commissioned experts to review 67 shooting incidents that left 19 people dead along the U.S.-Mexico border in 2010, 2011, and 2012.