U.S. Border Patrol Revises Policy on Use of Deadly Force

The agency has faced sharp criticism for policies allowing agents to respond to rock throwers with deadly force

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    NEWSLETTERS

    The U.S. Border Patrol issued new guidelines Friday that prohibits agents from shooting at moving cars or people throwing rocks unless there is a direct threat.

    The announcement comes a little more than two weeks after an agent shot and killed a rock-throwing suspect in the mountains south of San Diego.

    The agency now directs its officers not to shoot at moving cars or people throwing rocks unless there's a direct threat to an officer or other people present, NBC News reported.

    Jesus Flores-Cruz, 42, was shot twice on Feb. 18 along Otay Mountain Truck Trail just miles north of the U.S.-Mexico border.

    BP Agent Kills Rock-Throwing Suspect

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    A U.S. Border Patrol agent shot and killed a man after he was struck in the face with a rock, officials said. NBC 7's Megan Tevrizian reports. (Published Tuesday, Feb 18, 2014)

    A U.S. Border Patrol agent said he fired the shots because Flores-Cruz was throwing rocks and boulders at him during a foot pursuit.

    San Diego County sheriff's deputies investigating the shooting said the agent feared for his life when he fired at least two shots from his duty weapon.

    Read: Mexico Condemns Shooting by U.S. Border Agent

    NBC News reported that the revised policies followed an independent audit.

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    In the audit, there were examples of agents unnecessarily stepping in front of fleeing cars to justify firing at passengers and shooting back at rock throwers.

    The agency has faced sharp criticism for policies allowing agents to respond to rock throwers with  deadly force.

    The National Border Patrol Council issued a statement after the incident saying, in part, "rock attacks more than justify the use of force against those who choose to attack Border Patrol agents."

    The union claims that limiting the ability for agents to shoot those suspects throwing rocks will only result in more criminals attacking agents.

    Report: DHS Needs to Do Better Job of Tracking Excessive Force

    Last year, the U.S. Border Patrol reported a 70-percent spike in assaults on its officers from 2011 to 2012.

    When NBC 7 spoke with a field agent regarding the statistics, he said rocks were the most common weapons used when suspects assaulted agents.

    Among those applauding Friday's annoucement was the Mexican Ambassador to the U.S., Eduardo Medina Mora. Mora called the publication of the guidlines " a step towards transparency and a signal of openness that we welcome."