Questions linger over US Border Patrol’s killing of 16-year-old

NOGALES, Mexico: Questions linger over US Border Patrol’s killing of 16-year-old | National | The Bellingham Herald.

From the article:

The bullet hit Elena in the back of the head. He slumped mortally wounded to a sidewalk on the Mexican side, a few paces from the border fence. At least two agents, perched on the U.S. side about 20 feet above the street and shielded by the fence’s closely spaced iron bars, continued to fire, witnesses said. In all, 10 bullets struck Elena, spattering a wall behind him with blood.

Yet Jose Antonio Elena may not have tossed any rocks at all. He may have been just walking on a sidewalk on Mexican soil, an innocent passerby.

The Border Patrol has a video of the events that night, Oct. 10, 2012. The video likely shows whether U.S. agents killed an innocent Mexican or shot a member of a marijuana smuggling ring. But the U.S.’s largest law enforcement agency refuses to make the video public. The agents remain on the job, neither publicly identified nor receiving any disciplinary action.[…]

One witness on the Mexican side of the border calls Elena’s death murder. Those tossing rocks ran down a side street, escaping before the shooting started, he said. Elena was walking on the sidewalk when the rock throwers darted past him.

“To me, it was cold-blooded murder,” said Isidro Alvarado Ortiz, a 37-year-old security guard who said he was walking about 30 paces behind Elena when the agents opened fire.

Alvarado has given testimony to the FBI but like several Mexicans involved in the case, he has grown frustrated at the lack of U.S. action on the investigation.

“Imagine if it had occurred the other way around – if a Mexican had killed one of them. They would’ve come the next day to get the person,” Alvarado said. […]

Overhead – at the top of the knoll on the U.S. side of the border – is a metal pole topped with remotely operated video cameras that monitor the border. There is little doubt that one of the cameras captured the scene, including whether any rock thrower wore clothing matching what was found on Elena.

What appears on that video “is huge. It’s very important. It will verify whether the civilian witnesses are being truthful about what occurred that evening,” said Luis F. Parra, an American attorney for Elena’s family who has filed a notice of claim against the U.S. government for wrongful death.

“If it showed him throwing rocks, they would have exhibited it already,” added the family’s Mexican attorney, Manuel Iniguez Lopez.

Reticence by the Border Patrol to release the video is understandable. Errors in judgment would be embarrassing to agents and potentially costly to taxpayers.

That last paragraph seems bizarre to me. Yes, the desire of alleged criminals to cover up evidence of their alleged crime is “understandable,” but that doesn’t mean it’s not reprehensible.

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2 Responses to Questions linger over US Border Patrol’s killing of 16-year-old

  1. 1
    Sebastian says:

    Business as usual.

    Unless one is only exposed to American media, one knows that the most of the world hardly bats an eye when Americans commit crimes against foreigners, and get away with at most a slap on the wrist.

    A lot of ink flowed over the premeditated gang rapes and murders in Iraq, especially as out of thirty soldiers involved in four separate accidents, only three got significant (20 years, for all intents and purposes) sentences. Well, one sorta committed suicide, but people sorta commit suicide when they get arrested for reckless driving, let alone when their death will allow everyone else to claim that they were barely involved with the crime.

    There were weeks in which European media was flooded with videos of James Barker of the Mahmudiyah killings smirking and smiling five minutes after the tearful performance that earned him a lenient sentence. I never, not once, saw a mention in the US media.

    This is just more of the same. If anything, this is probably an accident, as opposed to premeditated mass murder. If someone who participated in the planning of the Mahmudiyah killings, and stood watch while his friends were killing and raping get 27 months, why should the US punish at all these agents who just shot the wrong guy? There were ROCKS! thrown and all Mexicans are just the same, right?

  2. 2
    RonF says:

    I have no problem with U.S. Border Patrol agents responding with lethal force when they are threatened with lethal force. But I have a big problem with them doing so if they are not – and with not resolving cases where whether or not they were faced with such force is ambiguous.