The Border Patrol has for decades adopted strict policies about the firing their weapons. In the most famous recent case, Border patrolman Brian Terry was killed in a firefight in which the patrolman used less lethal “bean bag” rounds. Border patrolmen I have talked to have always said that the mere presence of a weapon isn’t enough to justify shooting at someone. This makes sense, because most people in the United States can legally possess weapons, and because the law is clear on what is required to justify the use of deadly force. And in border areas, where there is often rampant criminality, many people consider it foolhardy not to be armed . . .
The Arizona Supreme Court recently reiterated this maxim, when they ruled that the mere presence of a weapon is insufficient to allow a person to be detained.
Border Patrol spokesman Omar Zamora said agents had been chasing a group of immigrants east of Brownsville Friday afternoon when an agent saw a man holding a gun near the Rio Grande. The agent fired four shots, but did not hit the man….
The man, whose name has not been released, was wearing camouflage and carrying a long arm that was either a rifle or shotgun, Lucio said. The agent had lost the group of immigrants when he turned around and saw the man holding the weapon.
An unknown number of militia members have come to the Texas border following a surge in illegal immigration this summer.
The totality of the circumstances must be taken into account. In this case, the patrolman was pursuing a group of illegal aliens when he saw the armed citizen. However, the citizen never made any threatening moves, and never pointed his long gun in the direction of the patrolman. Perhaps the shots were meant as a “warning,” but it’s counter to Border Patrol policy and a good way to instigate a gun fight.
The citizen in this case immediately dropped his weapon. He very likely had seen the patrolman coming in his direction and knew that the person firing at him was a member of the Border Patrol.
I suspect that the Border Patrol agent will be in a lot of trouble for this breach of protocol. He is very lucky that he did not hit the armed citizen, who was on private property, who had permission to be there, and who was not reported as doing anything illegal.