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Migrant died from multiple gunshot wounds in Border Patrol encounter, autopsy shows

The shooting occurred Saturday in a rugged mountainous area about 30 miles northeast of the border city of Douglas, Arizona, officials said.
Image: U.S. Border Patrol
Immigrant families are taken into custody by U.S. Border Patrol agents at the U.S.-Mexico border on Dec. 7, 2021 in Yuma, Ariz.John Moore / Getty Images file
/ Source: Associated Press

PHOENIX — An autopsy determined a migrant died from multiple gunshot wounds over the weekend after reportedly being shot by Border Patrol personnel in southern Arizona, officials said Tuesday.

The Pima County Medical Examiner confirmed the cause of death but said it will have no more information until the final examination report is released. It was unknown when that would be.

The Cochise County Sheriff’s Office earlier reported the shooting occurred around 10 p.m. Saturday during an encounter between a Border Patrol agent and some migrants who were in the country illegally in a rugged mountainous area about 30 miles northeast of the border city of Douglas. Agents detained several migrants in the same place near Skeleton Canyon.

The sheriff’s office has said the Custom and Border Protection’s Office of Professional Responsibility, which handles internal investigations, is involved in the probe.

Use-of-force issues are among the many challenges faced by new CBP Commissioner Chris Magnus, who was sworn in earlier this year after serving as Tucson police chief.

Agents have been involved in an increasing number of use-of-force incidents in recent years. During Donald Trump’s final 28 months in office, CBP recorded a monthly average of 50 use-of-force incidents. Under President Joe Biden, incidents increased by 20% to a monthly average of 70.

There also have been more fatalities involving Border Patrol agents, though the number of encounters with migrants has surged at an even higher rate.

Nearly 60 Border Patrol encounters resulted in deaths in 2021, three times as many as in 2019 and four times as many as the decade’s yearly average. Fatal car chases surged from two in 2019 to 23 in 2021.

On Tuesday, the sheriff’s office added only that the autopsy of the male migrant who died over the weekend was complete and officials were working on identification.

CBP has said nothing about the shooting since an initial tweet reporting that officials were responding to a report of a person being seriously injured.

The Mexican Consulate is working with sheriff’s deputies to identify the migrant and notify next of kin. An email seeking more information from the consulate in Douglas was not immediately returned Tuesday afternoon.