Univision Shows Cell Phone Video Of Border Shooting
DEBORAH AMOS, Host:
Tensions are rising between the U.S. and Mexico over an incident Monday in which a Border Patrol agent shot and killed a Mexican teenager on the Rio Grande River. The youth was allegedly throwing rocks. Mexico's president, Felipe Calderon, says he's worried about a surge of violence against Mexicans. His government has protested the shooting to the U.S. government. And now a cell phone video that contains vivid pictures of that shooting has been wildly broadcast and thus further enflamed Mexicans. NPR's John Burnett reports from El Paso.
JOHN BURNETT: The broadcast of this video throughout Mexico by the TV network Univision has had an electrifying effect. In the grainy black and white images, you can clearly see a Border Patrol agent climb off his bicycle and attempt to apprehend four of five suspects. They can be seen crawling through a hole in a U.S. border fence and running toward the shallow, muddy Rio Grande into Mexico.
(SOUNDBITE OF GUNSHOTS)
BURNETT: But Juarez Mayor Jose Reyes Ferriz watched the video and concluded the stone throwers never surrounded the agent but were across the river.
JOSE REYES FERRIZ: The fact that you can see how the shooting took place shows that it is going to be very difficult to prove that there was a substantial threat to life or safety for the officer to use lethal force like he did.
BURNETT: But Jim Stack, local union president of the National Border Patrol Council, states that agents are authorized to use deadly force if they believe an individual has put their lives in grave danger.
JIM STACK: Well, rocking - as what we call it - that's a potentially fatal situation to the agent. I mean, if a rock, depending on its size and velocity, were to strike one in the head, it could kill you. And if it doesn't kill you, it could certainly pose serious injury and it could also daze you, render you unconscious. If you are dazed or rendered unconscious because of a rocking, they can certainly come and finish off the job and take advantage of your unconscious state or your dazed state.
BURNETT: And at his funeral Thursday afternoon, grief mixed with rage at the officer who shot him. The Border Patrol has put the agent on administrative leave during the investigation.
(SOUNDBITE OF SOBBING)
BURNETT: Sergio Hernandez was buried in a working-class cemetery on a rocky windblown hill next to the graves of hundreds of young men struck down in the city's relentless cartel war. His 34-year-old sister, Angelica, rejects the claim her brother was a coyote, an immigrant smuggler.
ANGELICA: (Through translator) Sure, they're trying to clean themselves to say my brother was terrible, but even so, they didn't have the right to kill him - and he was not a coyote.
BURNETT: John Burnett, NPR News, El Paso.
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