Investigation into death of 15-year-old Mexican reveals border security doesn’t just mean more bodies on the border

Investigation into death of 15-year-old Mexican reveals border security doesn’t just mean more bodies on the border

LatinaLista -- The fallout from last week's shooting of 15-year-old Sergio Adrian Hernandez Huereka by a U.S. Border Patrol agent in El Paso just keeps falling. Now, there's news that the FBI has opened a civil rights probe into the case.


A civil rights probe investigates allegations of abuse by any U.S. law enforcement officer. If investigators determine the Border Patrol agent shot Hernandez without justification, he could be found to have violated Hernandez's civil rights, which is a crime. The fate of the agent could range from being cleared of all wrongdoing to a charge of homicide. 

A caravan of cars follow the hearse carrying the body of Sergio Adrian Hernandez Huereka, 15, as it makes a stop on its way to the cemetery in the northern border city of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, Thursday, June 10, 2010. Mexico condemned the fatal shooting of Hernandez Huereka by a U.S. Border Patrol agent through diplomatic correspondence and some Mexican politicians called for the agent's extradition to face Mexican justice. (AP Photo)

The Mexican police are also investigating the shooting because the boy died in Mexico. As with any shooting involving a member of U.S. law enforcement, the officer is on administrative leave until it's decided what the facts of the case are.

Had it not been for the cell phone filming of the whole thing, this might have been an open and shut case. The word of the border patrol agent would have had precedence over the word of any of the witnesses -- just as usually happens in any country.

It was curious to note that in the hours after the boy was killed authorities tried their hardest to paint this boy as a hardened criminal by releasing the fact that he was on the El Paso juvenile smugglers most-wanted list at the time of his death, and that the teen's most recent charge of smuggling undocumented immigrants into the U.S. was in 2009.

Yet, there's no way to erase the fact that a 15-year-old, who may or may not have been throwing rocks at the time of his death, was brought down in his tracks, as he was running away, by a bullet -- something just as lethal as a rock, if it had the same velocity, penetration and tissue tearing capability as a bullet.

Some have questioned the need for an investigation into this Border Patrol agent's actions. After all, he was just doing his job.

True, but there is a thing called excessive force and the idea of doing his job shouldn't be equated with killing teenagers whose weapons are rocks.



This group may have been trying to help people cross illegally into the country but because their weapon of choice was a rock, that means these were not blood-thirsty cartels packing semi-automatic weapons from whom border agents would have every justification to shoot their weapons in defending themselves.

Rather, this was a group, a teen among them, who for that precious commodity called money, was willing to escort a group of people illegally across the border. Throwing rocks probably wasn't as much a defensive measure as a way to distract the agents from those illegally crossing over.

If border patrol agents know that area to be popular with rock throwers, why aren't they wearing helmets or have access to helmets on the back of their bikes to put on so as to minimize the damage from a thrown rock?

If more agents/guards are going to be stationed along the border, it's imperative that more incidents like this one doesn't occur again. It's not enough just to place bodies along the U.S. border -- they have to be people who understand the motives of those who are challenging their authority.

Only then, can the right decision be made in how to respond.

In the process, lives can be spared, binational relations can be preserved and respect for those in uniform can be maintained.


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