Southern Border Region: A federal appeals court ruled on Friday that the Border Patrol agent who shot and killed 15-year old Sergio Adrian Hernandez Guereca cannot be sued in U.S. courts by the teen's family. The border agent shot across the border from El Paso, Texas into Ciudad Juárez in Mexico where Sergio Adrian was standing.
Vicki Gaubeca, Director of the ACLU of New Mexico's Regional Center for Border Rights, released the following statement:
The court's disappointing ruling disregards the family's need for justice and seems to give Border Patrol agents free license to shoot across an international boundary and kill children.
Christian Ramirez, Human Rights Director at Alliance San Diego and Director of the Southern Border Communities Coalition states:
The ruling from the 5th Circuit denies the family of Sergio Adrian a day in court and in doing so condemns border communities to continue to be haunted by impunity and state violence.
Background: In June 2010, U.S. Border Patrol Agent Jesus Mesa, killed fifteen-year-old Mexican national, Sergio Adrian Hernandez Guereca, near a bridge between El Paso, Texas and Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua. The agent discharged his firearm after allegedly coming under assault by rocks. A cell phone video taken by a witness, however, contradicts Mesa's claims that he was surrounded by "rock throwers" after he responded to a group of four youth allegedly crossing the border.
Last year, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the family of Sergio Adrian Hernandez Guereca had a constitutional right to sue the Border Patrol agent who killed the unarmed teenager. This finding was overturned by the court on Friday, April 24.
The court ruled that the family members of the 15-year old teen do not have the right to sue the Border Patrol agent who fired the fatal shot across the border wall. The family has not decided whether to appeal the decision according to the Hernandez family's attorney.
In 2014, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released an outside audit conducted by the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF), which reviewed CBP's use-of-force policies and practices.
Among its key findings, PERF concluded that agents placed themselves in harm's way to justify using deadly force, such as standing in front of moving vehicles or in close proximity to "rock throwers." When facing "rock throwing" situations, PERF recommended agents be trained "to de-escalate these encounters by taking cover, moving out of range and/or using less lethal weapons. Agents should not place themselves into positions where they have no alternative to using deadly force."
The Southern Border Communities Coalition (SBCC) brings together community organizations from San Diego, California, to Brownsville, Texas, to ensure that border enforcement policies and practices are accountable and fair, respect human dignity and human rights, and prevent the loss of life in the region.