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Mar 7, 2014 5:11 PM

Border Patrol issues new guidelines for deadly force

Border Patrol Chief Michael Fisher issued new orders Friday telling agents not to place themselves in front of moving vehicles and to avoid situations in which they have no alternative to using deadly force against rock throwers.

The Border Patrol and Customs and Border Protection also publicly released the full text of their use-of-force policies. The agencies have been under growing public pressure to release their policies and to address a lack of transparency and accountability in cases in which agents' use of force seemed questionable.

Fisher's directive said agents should only use deadly force when "the totality of the circumstances" are such that the force used against them poses imminent danger of death or serious injury to them or another person.

"Agents should not place themselves in the path of a moving vehicle or use their body to block a vehicle's path," he wrote. In rock-throwing incidents, "Agents should avoid placing themselves in positions where they have no alternative to using deadly force ... [and] should obtain a tactical advantage in these situations, such as seeking cover or distancing themselves from the immediate area of danger."

The Border Patrol union president for Local 2544 in Tucson Art del Cueto said the new directives in the policy are very vague.

"We never pull our guns unless we are in danger, anyway," del Cueto said. "What are agents supposed to do? Retreat? That's not an option."

Fisher's directive said agents should instead take cover or distance themselves from the danger. He also said agents should not fire unless they have a reasonable belief they are in danger. He wrote that agents should consider the size of the rocks or projectiles before deciding to fire.

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