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U.S. Supreme Court to Hear Mexico Border Shooting Case

The appeals court had originally ruled that U.S. Constitution laws did not apply to the case as Hernández was a Mexican citizen on Mexican soil

The west face of the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington D.C., photo: Wikipedia
By Reuters Whatsapp Twitter Facebook Share
11 months ago

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday agreed to decide whether to revive a civil rights lawsuit filed by the family of a Mexican teenager against a U.S. Border Patrol agent who fatally shot the 15-year-old from across the border in Texas in 2010.

The justices will review an April 2015 ruling by the New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that threw out the civil rights claims against the agent, Jesus Mesa, filed by the family of Sergio Hernández.

The appeals court ruled that the lawsuit could not move forward in part because the U.S. Constitution’s ban on unjustified deadly force did not apply to Hernández because he was a Mexican citizen on Mexican soil when the shooting occurred in June 2010.

The incident took place at a border crossing between El Paso, Texas and Ciudad Juárez, Mexico.

The U.S. Border Patrol said at the time that Hernández was pelting U.S. agents with rocks from the Mexican side of the Rio Grande before the shooting. U.S. authorities have asserted that Mesa shot Hernández in self-defense.

Lawyers for Hernández’s family disputed that account, saying he was playing a game with other teenagers in which they would run across a culvert from the Mexican side and touch the U.S. border fence before dashing back.

The FBI also said Hernández was a known immigrant smuggler who had been pressed into service by smuggling gangs that took advantage of his youth. Hernández guided illegal immigrants into the United States, the FBI said.

Hernández’s family sued both the U.S. federal government and Mesa. The Supreme Court appeal only concerns the claims against Mesa.

The case was seized on by activists who accused the United States of using heavy-handed tactics in dealing with immigration and human smuggling.

The shooting was condemned by Mexico’s government and prompted demonstrations in Ciudad Juárez.

The court will hear oral arguments and decide the case in its current term, which ends in June. The justices also announced on Tuesday that they will hear three related cases on a similar legal question concerning whether immigrants detained after the Sept. 11 attacks who said they faced abusive treatment can sue government officials.


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