U.S. Customs and Border Protection have issued a statement regarding the death of a man following a violent altercation with Border Patrol agents in New Mexico.
On April 2, 2023, at approximately 8:37 p.m., a Border Patrol agent observed a white Nissan Rogue sports utility vehicle circumvent a U.S. Border Patrol checkpoint located on Interstate 10, approximately 23 miles west of Las Cruces, New Mexico, and began to follow. The agent activated his emergency equipment to conduct a vehicle stop at approximately 8:39 p.m. A second agent responded to assist. The driver of the SUV failed to yield and continued traveling west on I-10 at approximately 40 miles per hour, before exiting onto the I-10 frontage road at mile marker 116. The driver of the SUV turned off of the frontage road at approximately 8:44 p.m. and headed west onto County Road C001, where a third agent responded to assist.
After traveling approximately 7.6 miles west on C001, the driver of the SUV approached a closed vehicle gate near a residence on the Burris Ranch at approximately 9:01 p.m. The driver of the SUV turned his vehicle around and stopped the SUV facing east toward I-10 on C001. Agents exited their vehicles and approached the SUV positioning themselves at the driver side, rear driver side, and front passenger side windows with their weapons drawn. Agents ordered the driver to show his hands and exit the vehicle, but he did not comply. Agents attempted to open the driver side door by pulling the handle but were unsuccessful. An agent then struck the driver side window with his collapsible straight baton; however, the window did not break. At that point, the driver of the SUV drove away from agents and traveled east on C001. Agents requested assistance from additional personnel via radio and the deployment of a vehicle immobilization device.
Responding agents successfully deployed an immobilization device on the SUV approximately 0.4 miles west of the intersection of C001 and the I-10 frontage road at approximately 9:18 p.m. Three of the SUV’s tires came into contact with the device. The driver of the SUV continued eastbound on the I-10 frontage road at approximately 22 mph and traveled approximately 1.7 miles east, before turning north onto County Road C003.
After traveling approximately 1.4 miles north on C003, the driver of the SUV stopped and exited the vehicle on foot at approximately 9:26 p.m.
The driver of the SUV drove for a total of approximately 22.7 miles and for a duration of approximately 49 minutes between the time he circumvented the U.S. Border Patrol checkpoint and ultimately exiting his vehicle and walking north on C003, an unpaved road.
Three U.S. Border Patrol agents, wearing body-worn cameras, began capturing video footage at approximately 9:26 p.m., which was reviewed by CBP’s Office of Professional Responsibility. The video showed the driver of the SUV moving north on foot on C003, away from the three agents, as they repeatedly ordered him to stop. The driver was holding a shirt in one hand and a wooden club in the other.
The driver was approached by several agents at gunpoint approximately 15-20 seconds after he began walking north on C003. The driver then swung the club three times in close proximity to one of the agents, who holstered his weapon and moved backwards to create distance. The driver once again began to walk away from the agents who repeatedly instructed him to stop and to drop the club. The driver once again swung the club three times at an approaching agent approximately six seconds later. An agent attempted to deploy an electronic control weapon twice over the next minute after instructing the driver to stop and drop the club. The driver appeared to prevent the taser from successfully deploying on both occasions by blocking the prongs with a shirt he was holding.
The driver continued to walk away from the agents, who continued to follow and order him to stop and drop the club, over the next three minutes. As the driver continued to walk along a fence line parallel to C003, another agent arrived in a marked unit and approached the driver with his extended baton in hand. This agent ordered the driver to stop and put the wooden club down. The driver swung his club as the agent approached, making contact with the agent’s baton, and swung his club a second time but did not strike the agent as the agent fell backward. The driver continued advancing toward the agent, who was now on the ground, swung the wooden club a third time and struck the agent. The driver struck the agent a second time as he stood over him and was preparing to do so again when three other agents fired their service weapons, striking the driver. The agents fired approximately 16 rounds.
The driver fell to the ground a few feet from where the agent had fallen on his back. Agents then approached the driver, removed the wooden club from his hands, secured him and then placed him into a recovery position. An agent who was trained as an emergency medical technician checked the driver for a pulse while other agents requested an ambulance along with medical assistance from emergency medical services. Agents did not observe any movement or signs of life from the driver of the SUV, who has since been identified as an adult male citizen of the United States.
The Dona Ana County Sheriff’s Office and EMS personnel arrived on scene at approximately 10:08 p.m. The sheriff’s deputies secured the perimeter of the scene until CBP’s Office of Professional Responsibility arrived. The Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General was also notified and arrived on scene. The New Mexico Office of the Medical Investigator arrived on scene at approximately 4:40 a.m. on April 3, and declared the male driver deceased at 5:16 a.m.
Approximately four minutes and 20 seconds elapsed between the time the driver began walking north on C003 after exiting his vehicle and when shots were fired. The driver, and the agents following him during that time, traveled approximately 0.2 miles.
The New Mexico Office of the Medical Investigator conducted an autopsy on the male driver on April 4. Further information on the cause and manner of death will be released by that office at the conclusion of their review.
CBP’s Office of Professional Responsibility and the DHS’ Office of Inspector General responded to the scene. This incident is under investigation by CBP’s Office of Professional Responsibility. The matter was also referred to DHS’ Office of Inspector General.
The agents involved in the use of force are on administrative leave, pursuant to standard practice at this point in an investigation following a use of deadly force. CBP is committed to expeditious release of the body worn camera footage of this incident as soon as is appropriate to do so without impacting the ongoing law enforcement investigation, in line with the May 25th, 2022, Executive Order on Advancing Effective Accountable Policing and Criminal Justice Practices to Enhance Public Trust and Public Safety.
The incident will be reviewed by CBP’s National Use of Force Review Board at the conclusion of the investigation.