The reason is obvious. Filled with less-lethal shells, a shotgun is still unmistakably a shotgun, and when the trigger is pulled, a shotgun blast is heard, a flash and puff of smoke is seen and heard, and the weapon recoils. Any person carrying a weapon and not immediately incapacitated by the less-lethal cartridge itself is likely to judge that their life is in danger and immediately return fire with their own far more lethal firearms.
This confusion was compounded by the fact that the event happened close to midnight; there was absolutely no way for the rip crew to verify they were actually facing off against law enforcement officers and not another rip crew. All they knew is that they were yelled at by men who identified themselves as police, and then those men started shooting at them.
It’s a matter of training. It’s a matter of common sense.
And it’s a matter of near criminal proportions that both long-held and carefully researched doctrine about the use of force was thrown out the window in favor of what was clearly a bureaucratic initiative made by someone hoping to mitigate the political fallout that might occur if Border Patrol agents shot a criminal alien and either killed or seriously wounded him or her.
Border Patrol officials lied at least once about the order to use beanbags in what appears to be an obvious attempt to cover up a lethally poor policy.
Was the policy a result of uniformed agents shooting and killing a rock-throwing Mexican teen in June of 2010? Was it the result of the generally apathetic to hostile feelings towards border security from DHS appointees and the White House itself?
The only appropriate responses are an immediate revocation of the policy before it leads to the death of other Border Patrol agents and an investigation into how the policy came into being and into who was responsible for trying to cover it up and why.