Safety Tip: Stop When Being Chased by a Texas DPS Chopper

“’This is going to get big really, really fast,’ a local law enforcement official said of the DPS incident. ‘You have a law enforcement official shooting at an unarmed alien. This is not an excuse for deadly force.'” You can say that again, Tex. According to themonitor.com, the red pickup (above) was suspected of carrying illegal immigrants and was being chased by a Texas Department of Public Safety helicopter on Thursday. The chopper was called in after a game warden was unable to pull the truck over. But they don’t have their stories straight yet as to why two people are now dead . . .

In the Monitor account, the game warden suspected the truck of running illegals across the border.

The pursuit began after a Texas Parks and Wildlife Department game warden tried to pull over a vehicle suspected of smuggling immigrants Thursday afternoon along FM 2221.

But another account at mysanantonio.com claims they thought the pick-em-up was hauling drugs.

At about 3 p.m. Thursday, a Texas Parks and Wildlife game warden tried to stop a pickup in western Hidalgo County, DPS spokesman Tom Vinger said Friday.

Officers thought the vehicle was a “covered’ drug load,” Vinger said. Smugglers in Hidalgo County often stack pickups full of drug bundles, cover them with a tarp and try to race to stash houses before getting noticed. Little effort is made to conceal the drugs.

Either way, the sharpshooter in the copter decided to get involved.

Radio chatter from a state trooper helicopter shooting that killed two suspected illegal immigrants near La Joya Thursday indicates the sharpshooter was attempting to disable a fleeing vehicle.

A voice in the audio, which was published Friday by KRGV in the Rio Grande Valley, is heard saying he’s “going to try to shoot one of the tires out,” and “we have a clear spot.”

Not quite as clear as he thought, evidently. The truck was stopped with a blown rear tire. And three people were shot, two fatally. And no one was armed. According to the Monitor article, DPS is the only agency authorized to shoot at a fleeing vehicle.

The agency’s director has said it’s been forced into the role because federal agencies aren’t doing enough to secure the border and because smugglers have become more aggressive, resorting to splashdowns, using other vehicles to block pursuits and throwing homemade spikes at officers.

But their methods have been questioned, including decisions to shoot at fleeing vehicles from patrol cars and helicopters, a tactic eschewed by other law enforcement agencies.

Look for more questions to come.