The FBI has cleared United States Border Patrol agents in two cases where agents shot and killed Mexican citizens along the Arizona border.
In the first case, investigators concluded that Ramses Barrón Torres was throwing rocks at agents from the Nogales, Mexico, side of the border in January 2011.
Investigators issued a statement saying, "The agents issued commands, in Spanish, to stop throwing rocks. However, Barron-Torres continued to throw rocks, and one of the agents fired a round at Barron-Torres from his service weapon, fatally striking him. A videotape of the incident captured Barron-Torres making a throwing motion with his right arm, then falling to the ground."
They said the videotape and witness accounts confirmed that.
The second incident involved Carlos LaMadrid near Douglas, Ariz., just two months later.
In that March 2011 shooting, LaMadrid was allegedly smuggling drugs then tried to run from a Border Patrol agent. As he climbed the wall back into Mexico, a second man climbed up and threw brick-sized rocks at the pursuing agent. The agent shot LaMadrid four times.
Investigators reviewed a poor-quality tape they said appears to corroborate the agent’s claim.
According to the Justice Department's statement, "At the time the shots were fired by the agent, LaMadrid was in the line of fire between the rock-throwing male and the agent. LaMadrid was struck by four bullets, causing him to fall to the ground."
The Justice Department said in both cases, it lacked the evidence to disclaim the agent’s account of what happened. It also said that to prove civil rights violations by agents, prosecutors have to prove the agent acted with the "deliberate and specific intent" to break the law. The Justice Department said it could not prove that in either case.
The Justice Department made both announcements at the end of the day Friday and refused to be interviewed about its findings.
Since 2010, Border Patrol agents have killed 17 people along the Mexican border. Agents have claimed self-defense in each case. However, the Border Patrol and the Justice Department have consistently declined to identify the agents involved in the shootings.
In a Taser death of an immigrant being deported at the San Diego border in 2010, the names of the agents involved were only made public because the U.S. Attorney's Office in San Diego accidentally released them last week.