A suspected smuggler was shot and killed by a Border Patrol officer during an interaction on March 14 near Sasabe.
Contributed Article/Courtesy U.S. Customs and Border Protection
SASABE – On March 14, at approximately 6:18 p.m. a U.S. Border Patrol remote camera operator observed multiple suspected undocumented migrants load into a BMW sedan, approximately one mile north of the Port of Entry at Sasabe, Arizona. The camera operator transmitted the information to Border Patrol agents in the area via radio.
Two agents who were parked in separate marked Border Patrol vehicles near mile marker 12 on State Route 286 observed a BMW pass their location driving northbound and began to follow. The driver of the BMW was reportedly driving in an erratic manner turning the vehicle’s turn signals on and off and speeding up and slowing down.
The agents activated their emergency equipment to conduct a vehicle stop at 6:34 p.m. The BMW failed to yield, and a pursuit ensued. The BMW turned westbound Near mile marker 20 on SR 286 onto Brown Bear Canyon Road, and the agents continued to pursue the vehicle. The driver of the BMW turned the vehicle to the south 3.8 miles west of SR 286 at approximately 6:41 p.m., while attempting to turn around.
Customs and Border Protection’s Office of Professional Responsibility special agents reviewed incident-driven video recording system footage related to the incident captured by a body-worn camera. The footage showed the first Border Patrol agent who arrived positioned his Border Patrol vehicle behind the BMW, exited his vehicle, and approached the driver’s side of the BMW. The agent used his collapsible straight baton to break the rear and front driver’s side windows of the BMW. The agent reached into the vehicle as the vehicle moved in reverse. The driver of the BMW continued to move the vehicle backward as the agent attempted to hold the driver’s left arm. The vehicle stopped and the driver changed gears and started turning the steering wheel with his right hand while the agent was holding him by his left forearm, which was outside and below the driver’s side window. The agent drew his handgun and fired one time striking the driver of the BMW.
Border Patrol agents secured the six occupants of the vehicle which included one U.S. citizen who was sitting in the front seat and exited the vehicle immediately before the shooting, two undocumented migrants in the back seat, and three additional undocumented migrants in the trunk. Both agents, who were trained as emergency medical technicians, rendered aid to the driver of the vehicle by performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation and using an automated external defibrillator. The driver, a U.S. citizen, was declared deceased on the scene by the Pima County Sheriff’s Department.
Pima County Office of the Medical Examiner conducted an autopsy on the driver on March 15. Further information on the cause and manner of death will be released by that office at the conclusion of their review.
The Pima County Sheriff’s Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General, and CBP’s Office of Professional Responsibility responded to the scene. This incident is under investigation by the Pima County Sheriff’s Department and FBI and is under review by CBP’s Office of Professional Responsibility. The matter was also referred to DHS’s Office of Inspector General.
The agent involved in the use of force is on administrative leave, pursuant to standard practice at this point in an investigation following the use of deadly force. CBP is committed to the expeditious release of the body-worn camera footage of this incident as soon as is appropriate to do so without impacting the ongoing law enforcement investigation, in line with the May 25, 2022, Executive Order on Advancing Effective Accountable Policing and Criminal Justice Practices to Enhance Public Trust and Public Safety.
This incident will be reviewed by CBP’s National Use of Force Review Board at the conclusion of the investigation. More information about CBP’s use of force review process can be found at https://www.cbp.gov/newsroom/stats/cbp-use-force/update-cbp-national-use-force-review-board.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the comprehensive management, control, and protection of our nation’s borders, combining customs, immigration, border security, and agricultural protection at and between official ports of entry.