U.S. Customs and Border Protection released body camera footage on Wednesday of a Border Patrol agent shooting and killing a U.S. citizen near Sasabe in March.
The release of the footage comes nearly a month after the shooting took place on March 14 at 6:41 p.m. in southwestern Arizona north of Sasabe. The dead man was suspected of smuggling five undocumented migrants in a BMW.
The Pima County Sheriff’s Department is conducting an external criminal investigation into the shooting.
“The loss of a life during a CBP law enforcement encounter profoundly impacts everyone involved, the family of the deceased, the officers and agents on the scene, the greater CBP workforce, and the communities we serve,” CBP Acting Commissioner Troy Miller said in a written statement accompanying the video.
The body camera video shows a Border Patrol agent driving down a dirt road as he pursues the BMW. The agent positions his pickup truck behind the BMW before getting out and smashing the rear and front driver’s side windows with his baton.
The agent and the driver struggle with each other as the driver repeatedly sticks his hand out of the broken window and the agent waves his baton. The driver then switches gears and puts the car into reverse as the agent tries to hold onto his left forearm.
The driver begins driving in reverse as the agent tries to hold onto his arm.
As the driver begins to sharply turn the wheel to turn the car left, the agent pulls out his handgun and fires once at the driver inside the car. The driver immediately slumps forward.
No audio was captured during the first two minutes of the video.
The rear left wheel of the car can be seen spinning after the shooting in the video, suggesting that the driver’s foot remains on the gas pedal. The driver has a sleeve of black tattoos on his left forearm and is wearing a San Francisco 49ers winter hat.
The audio kicks in shortly after the shooting.
The agent can be seen drawing his gun at another U.S. citizen who is sitting in the passenger’s seat and who gets out of the car “immediately” before the shooting, according to CBP. The passenger lies down on his stomach in the thick brush as sirens can be heard wailing in the background.
The passenger insists that he only moved away from the car because he didn’t want the BMW to back into him. The passenger tells the agent that he’s not going anywhere as he puts his hands behind his back.
“Don’t (expletive) shoot, don’t (expletive) shoot,” the passenger says as he lies on the ground.
The agent tells the passenger not to move as he handcuffs him. As he’s handcuffing the passenger, the agent says, “God damn it, dude.”
The agent hustles to his truck and turns the sirens off.
The agent briefly pauses at the BMW’s passenger side door and the driver can be seen slumped toward the passenger’s side as his body is held up by his seat belt.
Two agents rendered aid to the driver by trying to resuscitate him and by using a defibrillator. The driver was pronounced dead at the scene by the Pima County Sheriff’s Department.
Two other people are seen standing behind the car with another agent. The agent walks back to the passenger and it can be heard that he’s out of breath.
“Dude, why,” the agent asks the passenger. “Why?”
The passenger tells the agent to open the car’s trunk because there are people in there. Two migrants were in the back seat and three others were in the trunk, per CBP.
As the agent walks toward the trunk of the car, a woman puts up one handcuffed hand and says “please” in Spanish.
BMW first spotted near the Sasabe port of entry
The episode began at 6:18 p.m. when a Border Patrol remote camera operator saw multiple suspected undocumented migrants load into a BMW about one mile north of the Sasabe port of entry.
Two Border Patrol agents started following the BMW and noticed that the driver was driving in an “erratic manner.” The agents turned their emergency equipment on to perform a traffic stop but the driver kept going and a chase ensued.
The agents chased the BMW as the driver turned west near mile marker 20 on State Route 286 onto Brown Bear Canyon Road. The BMW driver tried to turn around at 6:41 p.m. by turning the car south 3.8 miles west of SR 286.
The video footage and other evidence were given to the FBI and the Pima County Sheriff’s Department hours after the incident occurred, CBP said.
CBP’s Office of Professional Responsibility is investigating the shooting. Once the investigations are completed, CBP’s National Use of Force Review Board will review this shooting to determine whether the agent followed CBP’s policy regarding the permissible use of force.
The results of the driver’s autopsy have not yet been made public but are expected to be released by the Pima County Office of the Medical Examiner at the conclusion of its review, CBP said.