A Texas state trooper killed two illegal immigrants by shooting at them from a helicopter.
The police helicopter was giving chase to a pickup truck speeding through the desert along the Mexican border when the unidentified state trooper decided to shoot at the truck, reports The Associated Press.
The state trooper said that he was trying to disable the vehicle that was suspected to be involved in drug smuggling. The police sharpshooter fired shots at the truck's tires causing them to blow out. The driver lost control and drove into a ditch.
State game wardens had first encountered the truck. When the driver of the truck refused orders to stop, the police were radioed in for assistance, reports the AP.
Officers in the helicopter say that the pickup truck appeared to be typical for a truck smuggling trucks. They also indicated that the truck was traveling at reckless speeds.
Along with the two people who died, police arrested eight others. The victims and most of those arrested were from Guatemala, reports the AP. No drugs were found.
Now the state police is dealing with criticism for excessive force. An expert on police chases called the state trooper's shooting at a speeding vehicle from a helicopter "reckless" and serving "no legitimate law enforcement purpose." The head of the Guatemalan Consulate is also demanding answers and accountability for the deaths, reports the AP.
Generally, police can only use deadly force when it is justified. While the Texas state trooper may have been aiming for the truck's tires, the fact that he shot at a speeding vehicle from a helicopter may be considered deadly force as the truck would likely lose control.
The federal Customs and Border Protection provides that its agents can only use deadly force when their lives are in danger, fellow law enforcement personnel are in danger, or the lives innocent third parties are in danger.
It's hard to imagine whose life was in danger by a pickup truck speeding along the Texas desert.
- Texas trooper in chopper shoots, kills 2 suspected illegal immigrants (Los Angeles Times)
- DPS: Policy allowed troopers to fire on suspected smuggler (San Antonio Express-News)
- Immigrants are Cash Cows for Private Prisons (FindLaw's Law & Daily Life)