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Border Patrol Agent Fatally Shoots Suspect In Otay Area

Photo by Jill Replogle

U.S. Border Patrol agents monitor the road leading to where a suspect was shot, Feb. 19, 2014.

A U.S. Border Patrol agent fatally shot a man along a rugged section of the Otay Mountains in southeast San Diego early Tuesday, authorities said.

Special Feature Deadly Patrols

Civilian deaths at the hands of U.S. Border Patrol agents are increasing even though illegal immigration and assaults against agents are down.

A U.S. Border Patrol agent fatally shot a man along a rugged section of the Otay Mountains in southeast San Diego early Tuesday, authorities said.

According to San Diego Sheriff’s homicide Lt. Glenn Giannantonio, the two Border Patrol agents had split up to cut off a group of three suspected undocumented immigrants when the shooting occurred about 4 miles east of the Otay Mesa border crossing on 6:40 a.m. Tuesday.

"The two agents were out of sight of each other when one of the agents was struck in the face by a rock thrown by one of the suspects. Fearing for his safety, the agent fired his duty pistol at the man, striking him," Giannantonio said in a statement.

Agents tried to revive the man, who was declared dead at the scene. The agent suffered minor injuries.

Since 2010, Border Patrol agents have shot and killed nine people in response to rock throwing. Last year, a government-commissioned review of the agency recommended that it stop responding to rock throwing with deadly force.

Authorities have not released the names of the officer or victim.

Customs and Border Protection officers and Border Patrol agents are authorized to use deadly force if they believe they are in imminent danger of death or serious physical injury.

Rock attacks were the most frequent type of assault on Border Patrol agents in fiscal year 2011 and the second most frequent type of assault in fiscal year 2012, according to a recent report from the Department of Homeland Security’s Inspector General.

Of 339 reported rock-throwing incidents in 2011, agents responded with a firearm to 33 of them. Of 185 rock attacks in 2012, agents responded with a firearm to 22.

The two other suspected undocumented immigrants currently are in Border Patrol custody.

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