Border Patrol Use of Force Rules: Shooting at Rock-Throwers Still OK

The guidelines come after years of criticism of Border Patrol officers' deadly shootings along the border.

By Julianne Hing Mar 10, 2014

On Friday the Border Patrol released guidelines to officers outlining when the use of deadly force is permissable. The guidelines come after intense advocacy from immigrant and human rights activists in the wake of multiple deadly Border Patrol shootings aimed at people who were allegedly throwing rocks at officers.

Border Patrol Chief Michael Fisher wrote that the officers’ "level of force applied must reflect the totality of the circumstances surrounding each situation." Fisher advised officers to stop shooting at moving vehicles and rock throwers, that is, unless officers believe that the "subject of such force poses and imminent danger of death or serious injury." According to Fisher, Border Patrol officers have killed 10 people since 2010 after rock-throwing incidents after 1,713 incidents of rock-throwing. 

The memo "leaves much to be desired," ACLU policy counsel Chris Rickerd told the AP. "It is largely a restatement of existing policy, which is a shame because clearly existing policy isn’t working," Rickerd said.

Read the Border Patrol memo (PDF).