Coburn comment raises legal eyebrows

Associated Press

WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator Tom Coburn suggested that Border Patrol agents should be allowed to shoot at fleeing drug traffickers.

Coburn's comments came during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the patrol's deadly force rules after the conviction of two agents who shot a fleeing, unarmed drug trafficker.

During the meeting, the Oklahoma Republican asked what's wrong with shooting traffickers after they've been told to stop.

Johnny Sutton, the US attorney for the Western District of Texas, explained that the Supreme Court has ruled that using deadly force in that way is illegal. He says agents also have no way of knowing for sure if the fleeing person is a trafficker.

Border Patrol Chief David Aguilar says agents can return fire to defend themselves, their partners or other people.