Border Patrol Upholds Use of Deadly Force for Rock-Throwing, Vehicles

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In October of 2012, 16-year-old Jose Antonio Elena Rodriguez was gunned down by Border Patrol for allegedly throwing rocks at the agents. Last February, according to USA Today, two medical examiners working for the attorney general in Sonora, Ariz. determined that he was shot from behind, contradicting the official report.

The 11 entry wounds were reportedly clearly not ricochets.

Also, Mexican police suggested that given where the agent was standing when he fired on Rodriguez, it would have been impossible for them to have been hit by a rock thrown over the fence from where the body was found.

The Rodriguez killing sparked a national debate about how much force is too much force.

According to the Associated Press, the Border Patrol decided today to continue to allow agents to use deadly force against rock-throwers, rejecting the recommendations of a review commissioned by the government to reevaluate the practice.

"Cmmon-sense” limitation on the use of deadly force purposefully places a significant amount of responsibility on the person pulling the trigger. It’s a gray area that is left to protect agents in the field and provide them with the authority to defend their lives or the lives of others. Yet, when a wrongful shooting or overuse of force happens, agents are able to hide in that gray area from taking responsibility for their actions.

The US/Mexico border is a brutal place. Coyotes—people who smuggle migrants across the US border—often beat, rape, and kill their charges. The desert is harsh and unforgiving. There were 185 rock attacks in 2012 against US border agents.