Monday, February 25, 2013
Texas state troopers are no longer permitted to shoot from helicopters at fleeing suspects, the result of a high-speed chase that happening in the Rio Grande Valley four months ago.
SAN ANTONIO, Texas Texas state troopers are no longer permitted to shoot from helicopters at fleeing suspects, the head of the Department of Public Safety told Texas lawmakers Thursday.
The new no-shooting-from-the-sky policy is the result of a high-speed chase that happened in the Rio Grande Valley four months ago.
Chasing a pickup truck officers thought was carrying a load of drugs, the helicopter sharpshooter opened fire in an attempt to flatten the trucks tires. But the bed of the pickup truck was loaded with undocumented border crossers -- two were killed.
Thursday during a state appropriations hearing was the first time state lawmakers were allowed to publicly question the DPS about the shooting, since state leaders refused to hold independent hearings on the incident.
DPS Director Steve McCraw said his shooter did nothing wrong, but they won’t be shooting from choppers anymore unless they have to.
“I’m a firm believer they did exactly what they thought they needed to do and they looked at the totality of circumstances and it was consistent with the Texas Penal Code," McCraw said. "But I am convinced that now from a helicopter platform that we shouldn’t shoot unless being shot at.”
Terri Burke of the Texas ACLU said the new policy is welcome news, but McCraw should have announced it months ago. She said border residents have been living in fear ever since the shooting, worried that DPS would target them for driving too fast down a dirt road.
“And it’s really discouraging that the legislature, for whatever reason, and I can speculate, weren’t willing to haul Director McCraw in sooner and a put him on the hot seat to ask these questions," Burke said.