The Supreme Court agreed Tuesday to decide whether a U.S. Border Patrol agent can be sued for shooting and killing a Mexican teenager who was playing with friends in the concrete culvert that separates El Paso, Texas, from Juarez, Mexico.
The shooting of an unarmed 15-year-old named Sergio Hernandez provoked outrage in Mexico in 2010 and set off a prolonged legal dispute over the reach of the U.S. Constitution.
The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case to determine if the family of Mexican teenager who was killed by a Border Patrol agent firing into Mexico has a constitutional right to sue the agent in the United States.
The Supreme Court announced Tuesday it would hear the case for this term, which began earlier this month.
U.S. Border Patrol agents had “an astonishing pattern” of shooting people who threw rocks at them under a vague use-of-force policy that led to the “highly predictable” death of a man along the U.S.-Mexico border in California, according to a law enforcement expert witness’ review of a fatal shooting.
In a report completed this week, a former Baltimore police commissioner and Justice Department official found a Border Patrol policy allowing agents to shoot their firearms based on the threat of a thrown object “highly suspect.”
“Virtually all thrown objects fail to meet the ‘Imminent Peril’ standard to justify use of deadly force, and in such circumstances, officers are trained to take evasive or defensive action, not escalate the encounter with gunfire,” Thomas Frazier wrote in his report,
A lawsuit over the fatal shooting of a Mexican immigrant accused of throwing rocks at Border Patrol agents is moving forward, not only against the two agents at the scene, but against the chief of the U.S. agency.
A San Diego federal court judge ruled to keep Chief Michael J. Fisher in the lawsuit earlier this month. It marks a rare instance of a supervisor of his stature being legally held to answer for the actions of his subordinates in a wrongful death case.
Lawyers at Corpus Christi, Texas based Hilliard Munoz & Gonzalez, and at Austin, Texas based Hilliard & Shadowen LLP applaud the decision issued today by the federal district court in San Diego, California regarding the U.S. Border Patrol’s unlawful Rocking Policy. Under that policy, border patrol agents along the southern border were permitted to treat the alleged throwing of rocks at them as lethal force, regardless of the circumstances, and to shoot to kill in return.