February 23, 2013
Officials in Texas announced on Thursday that State Troopers would no longer be allowed to open fire on suspects from helicopters after the recent killing of two immigrants.
While announcing the new policy, Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw insisted that the ban on aerial shootings had nothing to do with the October 2012 death of two Guatemalan immigrants, who were gunned down by troopers in helicopter while they were hiding in the back of a speeding pickup truck near La Joya.
“I’m convinced that now, from a helicopter platform, that we shouldn’t shoot unless being shot at, or unless someone is being shot at,” McCraw told the state House Committee on Appropriations. “Last Friday, after a review of the policy and looking at all of the different things, and this is not a reflection of what happened there, I’m a firm believer they did exactly what they thought they needed to do.”
ACLU of Texas Executive Director Terri Burke welcomed the change, but faulted the Texas Legislature for not moving to force the policy earlier.
“We were shocked. We’re thrilled, but we were surprised,” Burke said in a statement “We hope that this decision is a step, if only a small one, toward ending the culture of violence that pervades enforcement of border security in Texas.
U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights found that the US continually uses excessive force against immigrants along the US-Mexico border in October. At least fifteen civilians have been killed by the Border Patrol since 2010, according to the LA Times, but that estimate is very low.