Dozens of border patrol shootings have happened over the past several years. A March 2016 report in The New York Times detailed the 2012 death of 16-year-old Jose Antonio Elena Rodriguez, who was shot 10 times in the back by Border Patrol agents while he stood just on the Mexican side of the border in Nogales, Mexico. The agents had been pursuing two men who were attempting to climb the border wall, presumably to smuggle in marijuana. Although the agents claimed that they were shooting in self-defense, Antonio was unarmed and was not one of the men attempting to climb the wall.
In September 2015, the Border Patrol officer who shot Jose Antonio was indicted on murder charges. Importantly, the judge in the case rejected the officer’s claim of sovereign immunity.
According to The New York Times article, Border Patrol agents have killed at least 42 people since 2005, and most of the victims were killed inside of the United States. Thirteen of those victims were United States citizens. To complicate matters, the United States Border Patrol is authorized to assist local police in the United States in certain circumstances.
Complicated Issues of Federal and State Law
When any unjustified police shooting occurs, victims have rights under state law as well as the U.S. Constitution. These cases can be exceedingly complex, and victims should consult with an experienced police shooting attorney to better understand their rights.
When cross-border shootings occur—that is, when the border patrol agent fires from the United States and injures or kills a person standing in Mexico—the rights of the victim are far less clear. In a recent Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals case, it was held that a Mexican citizen standing on Mexican soil was not protected by the U.S. Constitution. On the other hand, if a Mexican citizen is on American soil, most legal scholars agree that constitutional protections would apply.
Contact the Law Offices of Scott D. Hughes for More Information
Border Patrol shooting cases involve complex issues of federal and state law. The identity of the victim, whether the victim was physically inside the United States at the time, and a host of other factors affect the outcome in any given case. If you or a loved one has been the victim of a Border Patrol shooting, it is imperative that you consult with a knowledgeable Border Patrol shooting lawyer. An experienced lawyer can investigate the facts of your case and help to protect your rights.
Attorney Scott D. Hughes has been practicing in Orange County and Los Angeles County since 2007, in both state and federal court. He has handled civil rights cases, including criminal law, immigration law, and excessive use of police force. Scott believes that police officers and Border Patrol agents should be held accountable for their actions. If you or someone you know has been the victim of a Border Patrol shooting, contact the Law Offices of Scott D. Hughes today for a free consultation at 714-423-6928.