Another Mexican National Allegedly Shot by Border Patrol

One story that has been largely gone unnoticed in recent days is the death of Ramses Barron Torres — a 17-year-old Mexican national who was shot by a U.S. border patrol agent. At first, there were conflicting reports regarding the curious circumstances surrounding his death. Originally, a Mexican official reportedly said the teen died Wednesday after he fell from a border fence and hit his head on a rock. However, witnesses to the event claimed that Torres was shot by a U.S. Border Patrol agent. Ambassador to the U.S., Arturo Sarukhan (shown here), said on Thursday that it now appears “to be clear that the death was the result of a gunshot wound.”

KGUN has shared the testimony of a friend and witness to Torres’ death:

“The moment I came from running from up here (USA) to down there (Mexico), that’s when you can hear the gunshot. I thought that they were shooting at me, but they weren’t. This is when Ramses yelled, ‘They hit me! They hit me! Help me!” explained Torres’s friend, Sergio, who did not want his full name revealed.

Sergio added that aside from climbing the fence to visit Ramses’s American girlfriend, the two did nothing else to provoke Border Patrol. His statements conflict with reports saying the boys threw rocks at the federal agents.

“We didn’t do any harm to them. We didn’t have any guns or nothing. We just had ourselves. I think they were just mad because they (Border Patrol) couldn’t catch us,” said Sergio.

Watch the report here.

The FBI, which is leading the investigation, has maintained that Border Patrol agents were attempting to arrest suspected drug smugglers near the fence when bystanders began throwing rocks at them, prompting an agent to fire at them. Nonetheless, the agent who fired the shot was placed on administrative leave.

Regardless of which side is right, the incident presents yet another disturbing case of what appears to be excessive force. This past summer, Anastacio Hernández, a father of five U.S. born children, was shot with a stun gun by a Customs and Border Protection Officer at the San Ysidro border crossing as he resisted being deported. While Customs and Border protection maintained their actions were necessary to “subdue the individual and maintain officer safety,” the San Diego County coroner ruled that his death was a homicide.

A few days later, a U.S. Border Patrol agent shot and killed Sergio Adrián Hernández Huereca, a 14-year-old boy on the U.S. side of the Paso Del Norte bridge in El Paso, Texas who allegedly threw rocks at him.

Andrea NillAt the time, T.J. Bonner, president of the National Border Patrol Council, claimed “deadly force” was a justified response. However, I still have a hard time understanding how young, unarmed kids throwing rocks merits a deadly firing of bullets in response.

Either way, it’s still unclear whether rock-throwing was even involved in last week’s incident. According to the Arizona Republic, newspapers on both sides of the border reported that the incident occurred in an area that is under video surveillance, which will hopefully clear up what is about to come yet another international controversy.

Andrea Nill

Republished with permission from the Wonk Room.

Published by the LA Progressive on January 13, 2011
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About Andrea Christina Nill

Andrea Nill is an Immigration Researcher/Blogger for ThinkProgress.org and The Progress Report at the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Andrea holds a bachelor’s degree from Cornell University in Political Science with a concentration in Latin American Studies and Law and Society. Prior to joining the center, Andrea was a Communications Associate at the Immigration Policy Center where she founded the blog, Immigration Impact. Andrea was also a Communications Specialist at the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), specializing in bilingual public relations. Andrea was born in Guatemala and grew up in upstate New York.