Friday, January 17, 2014
A video surfaced earlier this week showing a U.S. Border Patrol agent in the San Diego Sector punching and kneeing a man already lying on the ground. It has raised questions about the Border Patrol’s use of force, a controversy that has only recently entered the public realm.
The incident started Monday afternoon, Jan. 13, when the agent pulled over a van in Temecula, Calif.
Two of the four men inside were in the country illegally. The Border Patrol said in a statement that, as the agent moved in to arrest one of the men, the man punched the agent. The agent then tried to subdue him with a Taser but the man continued resisting.
At that point, an off-duty officer and a bystander helped the agent subdue him. The driver of the van took the cell phone footage and turned part of it over to 10 News San Diego which broke the story.
But the Border Patrol’s statement doesn’t reflect the details shown in the video. The agent is kneeling over the shirtless man lying on the ground. Another man is holding on to the subject’s legs. The Border Patrol agent punches him repeatedly with short jabs. He yells at the man to give him his arm. The man asks to use the bathroom.
The Border Patrol arrested the unidentified man on assault on a federal agent and re-entry after deportation charges.
The man who shot the video is a parolee. Agents went to his house and seized the cell phone video, but he kept one of the videos to turn it in to the news station.
The agency has not said whether the agent is being investigated for punching the man while he was already lying on the ground.
According to the Office of Inspector General, Border Patrol agents were assaulted 6,095 times between fiscal years 2006 and 2012. The OIG also reviewed allegations of excessive force. It found that in 1,896 cases, agents possibly used excessive force 1,187 times between fiscal years 2007 and 2012. Agents may have used excessive force 504 times in that same time period. More than 200 cases, 11 percent of the total, were dismissed in the OIG’s findings as not being excessive force.
The OIG stressed that Homeland Security agents need more scenario-based training to test what they are taught in real-life simulations. The OIG wrote:
“In addition, several officials said the use of scenario-based training should be increased during basic training, especially at the Border Patrol Academy. They said trainees leave the Border Patrol Academy with the necessary tools and tactics, but are not fully prepared for possible real-life situations they might encounter. For example, one official said trainees do not have the opportunity in a training environment to experience how they might react in an encounter in the field and practice working through their stress or fear reaction. CBP officials said that by experiencing possible scenarios and reactions in a training environment, trainees are better prepared for any situation they encounter in the field. We agree with suggestions to increase scenario-based training at the basic academies.”
Meanwhile, assaults and attacks on Border Patrol agents continue.
On Thursday, a San Diego Sector Border Patrol agent was knocked off his ATV after someone in Mexico hurled a six-inch diameter rock and struck him in the head. That agent is recovering.