Border rights groups reiterate their call for lapel cameras to provide independent evidence
For Immediate Release
Contact: Ricardo Favela, firstname.lastname@example.org, 760.659.3620
San Diego: On Tuesday, February 18 at approximately 6:40 AM, a Border Patrol agent shot and killed 41 year-old Jesus Flores-Cruz, a Mexican national, while in a rural area of San Diego County about 5 miles north of the Otay Mesa border crossing. The name of the Border Patrol agent has been withheld.
The San Diego County Sheriff’s press report on the homicide describes the person killed as the “suspect” and the person who killed him as the “victim.”
In response, Pedro Rios, the program director for the American Friends Service Committee in San Diego, issued the following statement on behalf of the Southern Border Communities Coalition (SBCC):
“We are concerned that the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department is predisposing this investigation to bias by identifying the person shot and killed as a suspect at the initial stages of the investigation. This positioning endangers the impartiality in this case and our coalition has asked the Department of Justice to intervene to ensure a thorough and impartial investigation. The Justice Department is now reviewing the incident.”
As is often the case, the only witness in this case is the agent who did the shooting. Unfortunately, the victim who is dead cannot respond to allegations about his actions. “It is because of incidents like this that SBCC has called for agents to wear body cameras to record their interactions, especially in remote areas,” stated SBCC’s co-chair Vicki Gaubeca, who is the executive director of the ACLU New Mexico’s Regional Center for Border Rights. “The cameras, commonly used by police, provide independent evidence of what took place.”
Without independent evidence or eyewitnesses, it’s important for the investigating agency to ask the hard questions about whether this was an appropriate use of force. At a time when Congress, civil society, and independent auditors like the Police Executive Review Forum (PERF) are examining CBP’s policy on use of force and recommending that the agency adhere to best policing practices to use non-lethal force whenever possible in response to rock throwers, questions about the agent’s actions in this case remain.
SBCC has learned that the agent involved in the shooting was only carrying a baton and was not carrying a pepper-ball gun or other non-lethal weapon that is commonly used by police to respond to rock throwers without having to take a life. “The question we ask is why was the agent not carrying a non-lethal weapon like a pepper-ball gun, especially if rocking was an anticipated threat?” stated Christian Ramirez, SBCC director. “We have to wonder whether this situation could have been resolved without the loss of a human life.”
The Southern Border Communities Coalition (SBCC) brings together more than 60 organizations from San Diego, California, to Brownsville, Texas, to ensure that border enforcement policies and practices are accountable and fair, respect human dignity and human rights, and prevent the loss of life in the region.