The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday agreed to decide whether a Mexican family can sue a U.S. Border Patrol agent for the 2010 shooting death of their teenage son at the border between El Paso, Texas, and Ciudad Juárez, Mexico.
The shooting happened in June 2010 on the dry riverbed of the Rio Grande, which marks the border between the United States and Mexico just south of downtown El Paso. Border Patrol agent Jesus Mesa Jr. was standing on the U.S. side when he fired his gun into Mexico killing 15-year-old Sergio Hernandez Guereca at close range. The Border Patrol has said the Mesa acted in self defense after being pelted with rocks by Hernandez Guereca and his friends.
Attorneys for the teen's family argue that constitutional protections against excessive use of force by U.S. law enforcement should apply in this case. Last year, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed, saying Hernandez Guerca was not eligible for those protections because he was standing on Mexican soil when he was killed. Now the Supreme Court will review that decision.
Resolving these cross-border shooting deaths is clearly the subject of legal dispute. Last year, a federal judge in Tucson ruled another Mexican family could sue the Border Patrol agent who killed their 16-year-old by firing from Arizona into Nogales, Mexico. That Border Patrol agent is also facing a second-degree murder charge in federal court.