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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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  • Richard Grabman
    June 15, 2010 at 12:44 am

    there is a thing called excessive force…
    Alas, Marisa, you are underestimating the issue. A more important issue here in Mexico, even more than the civil rights issue is the armed attack on civilians from a foreign country that has invaded here several times, and where even “progressives” seem to not get that Mexico is not the U.S. “backyard” where its agents can do what they want.

  • Texan123
    June 15, 2010 at 9:00 am

    Why don’t you suggest that children do not throw rocks at law enforcement officers? Why not suggest the children do not play games along the border, especially games to evade border patrol.
    Put yourself in the officer’s shoes. A group of young men, cursing you and throwing 5 pound rocks at your head and you think your life is not in danger?
    The behavior of the Mexicans in this situation is the problem. Mexican police aid the rock throwers and only get involved if U.S. agents must defend themselves.
    The video shows Mexican officers crossing, illegally, to the U.S. side to retreive something on the ground. Is that not tampering with evidence?What did the Mexican officer pick up?
    Is it possible that it was not the U.S. agent’s bullet that killed this boy? The Mexican officers were armed, probably the young men were too. I suspect the Mexican officer crossed to the U.S. side to pick up the U.S. agent’s shell casing and will try to use that as evidence. If the boy was shot in Mexican territory at close range, and the U.S. agent never crossed the river, then it may not have been the agents bullet that killed this young man.
    It is the Mexican contempt for U.S. Border Patrol and the American people take causes these situations. Why do Mexican police allow children to throw rocks and explode firecrackers
    and interfere with an officer who is simply doing his job?
    As usual, the U.S. is blamed before the evidence has been objectfully examined. The Mexican people really do hate American law enforcement.

  • Irma
    June 15, 2010 at 10:05 am

    Where is the international outrage against the United States? Whenever the Israelis
    so much as sneeze at the Palestinians-
    the United Nations is calling for sanctions against Israel.
    Why arent all those UN diplomats calling for an investigation into the murder of a Mexican child in his own country by
    American border patrol shooting across the
    southern US border? Why not? The answer is that no one really cares.
    Why haven’t African Americans taken up this issue? Latinos should be asking themselves this question.

  • Texan123
    June 16, 2010 at 11:09 am

    Latino’s and everyone else should be asking to see the video before determining guilt. Of course, the FBI will refuse, saying it is evidence and can not be released.
    Tensions are being enflamed on both sides. Who benefits if tensions continue in the region? Why stir up more trouble by demanding international attention? What will Mexico say if it is proven that the Patrol officer’s gun did not kill the boy?
    It is not good to promote outrage before the facts are revealed.

  • Alonzo
    June 17, 2010 at 4:36 pm

    When Mexicans abuse their illegal aliens, raping, murdering and looting them on a daily basis as they head toward this country, we cannot hear US Latino protests above the din of those protesting the occasional incident on our border.
    A well placed rock thrown by a boy who’s become an adult before his time is as dangerous as a knife or gun. We hear of younger children guilty of killing siblings in their cribs, so I will not give a 14-year old a free pass just because of his age and by demand of a hater of our border authorities.

  • Diane
    June 27, 2010 at 11:21 am

    Why would African Americans involve themselves with issue in the first place, they generally know better than to throw rock at law enforcement officers who have guns. Beside they are US citizens and not citizens of Mexico.
    While it is sad that this teen was killed, what is really sad is that there are many Mexicans who seem to think it is alright to throw rock at the Border Patrol in the first place.
    This teen got himself killed by being stupid with his friends. And just maybe this will be a lesson for all the rock throwing idiots on the border, that a bullet can fly further than a rock.

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