Border officials for the first time have publicly released the conclusions of internal investigations of agents who opened fire while on duty, ruling that officers had acted properly in four shootings.
The reviews were conducted by an internal panel that the
Fourteen other shootings are still being investigated.
In one of the cases agents fired repeatedly at the engine of a so-called panga boat smuggling immigrants off the coast near Solana Beach in San Diego County on June 18, 2015.
The agents who shot at the boat acted "in compliance" with agency policy, the panel concluded. Following the shots, the boat collided with the agents' boat and capsized, sending 20 people into the water. One woman drowned.
Two other incidents, one in May 2012 in Nogales, Ariz., and the other in October 2014 in Escobares, Texas, a town in the Rio Grande Valley, involved agents firing on people who were throwing rocks at them. The review panel concluded that the agents were in danger from the rocks, which were being thrown down at them by people on a hill.
In a fourth shooting, on July 22, 2014, in Edinburg, Texas, also in the Rio Grande area, an agent fired on a suspect who was holding a rifle and running from local police officers.
The shootings were by the National Use of Force Review Board, a panel created in December 2014 after that agents at people throwing rocks and in cases had deliberately stepped in front of moving vehicles to justify shooting at the drivers.
After reviewing the shootings, the panel made nine recommendations for policy and operational changes. Details about those reforms were not made public.
An advocate for immigrant rights, however, said he was dismayed by the length of time taken to review the shootings.
"It takes way too long" said Christian Ramirez, director of the Southern Border Communities Coalition, which tracks border shootings.
Though it is "wonderful" to see border officials release more information, having to wait years in some cases "creates a very bad perception for the community," Ramirez said.
"Despite the best efforts from the commissioner to turn this organization around, it is still an agency in crisis that is unable to answer basic questions about what happened, who was injured and what happened to the agent involved," he said.
3:13 p.m.: This article has been updated with additional reaction.
2:15 p.m.: This article has been updated with additional information from the report and reaction.