Border Patrol Maintains Silence After Shootings

Steve Inskeep talks to the mother of a 15-year-old boy who was shot under a bridge that spans the border from El Paso, Texas, to Juarez, Mexico. (This piece aired on June 9, 2014 on Morning Edition.)

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Another federal court ruling this week cast more attention on the U.S. Border Patrol. An appeals court said the family of a Mexican teenager can sue the Border Patrol agent who shot and killed their son. The court set aside a claim that U.S. law should not apply since the agent was shooting from the American side of the border while the teen was on Mexican soil. As we heard on the program earlier this year, my colleague Steve Inskeep visited the site of that shooting with the mother of teen victim.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Her name is Maria Guadelupe Guereca Betancourt. She's a mom. I asked her how many kids she had.

INSKEEP: (Spanish Spoken).

MARIA GUADELUPE GUERECA BETANCOURT: (Spanish Spoken).

INSKEEP: (Spanish Spoken).

BETANCOURT: (Spanish Spoken).

INSKEEP: There were seven, she said, now there are six. Her son Sergio was shot and killed. He was 15. Between El Paso and Juarez, the border is the Rio Grande. More precisely, it's a culvert with sloping concrete walls and little water. It's easy to walk down into that channel. Maria Guereca acknowledges her son did walk down in that culvert on June 7, 2010.

BETANCOURT: (Spanish Spoken).

INSKEEP: He went out of curiosity, she says, to watch the border patrol chase other teens, kids would cross the culvert to touch the fence on the U.S. side. The Border Patrol said it was not curiosity, the agency contended people in the culvert were trying to sneak across the border. A bystander took cell phone video of what happened next. The blurry video shows Border Patrol agents descending into the culvert. An agent grabs a suspect by the collar, other people in the culvert throw rocks. Clutching the suspect with his left hand, the agent aims a weapon with his right, he's aiming at a person some distance away. That person is 15-year-old Sergio Guereca

(SOUNDBITE OF GUNSHOT)

GREENE: Guereca was killed with a bullet below his left eye. A federal district judge threw out the case, ruling that the family of a person killed in Mexico had no standing to sue in the United States. This week's appeals court ruling reversed that, which means Maria Guereca can proceed with legal action after the shooting of her son. You're listening to MORNING EDITION from NPR News.

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