Mexico condemns Border Patrol’s lethal force against migrant

Posted at 7:47 PM, Feb 20, 2014
and last updated 2014-02-20 21:47:47-05
By Michael Martinez


(CNN) — The Mexican government condemned the U.S. Border Patrol’s use of lethal force that resulted in the death of an apparently undocumented migrant on the California-Mexico border this week.

The migrant was identified by Mexican authorities as Mexican national Jesus Flores Cruz.

“We also firmly reiterate that the use of lethal force in border control operations is unacceptable. The Government of Mexico expects the results of the investigations and that those responsible be held accountable,” the Secretariat of Foreign Relations said in a statement Thursday.

The Mexican government is seeking a thorough investigation of the incident.

Since January 2010, at least 28 individuals have died as the result of an encounter with U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials, said the activist group Southern Border Communities Coalition. At least 27 deaths resulted from the use of lethal force, and one person died after not receiving adequate medical attention, the group said.

On Tuesday, a Border Patrol agent shot and killed an apparently undocumented migrant who allegedly threw rocks at the agent, striking his face, on the border near San Diego, authorities said.

A social justice advocacy group criticized the Border Patrol’s use of deadly force in the incident, saying there’s a disturbing trend of Border Patrol “killings of rock throwers, some of whom were teenagers and some whom were U.S. citizens” on the U.S.-Mexico border, said Andrea Guerrero, executive director of Alliance San Diego.

The Border Patrol declined to comment directly on this week’s incident, which is under investigation by local authorities, but in the past, the agency has highlighted how agents are seriously injured in rock-throwing incidents and resort to lethal force to protect themselves.

Guerrero said, however, some police experts advise using nonlethal force such as pepper-ball guns to respond to rock throwings.

“Border agents should adhere to best policing practices and only use lethal force as a last resort, not the only resort,” Guerrero said.

Rock-throwing incidents have been controversial on the U.S.-Mexico border, particularly when Mexicans have thrown projectiles from the Mexico side of the international line toward Border Patrol agents on the U.S. side.

In some cases, U.S. Border Patrol agents have fired their guns at the rock throwers on the Mexico side of the border, killing the rock thrower. Mexican officials have condemned the Border Patrol’s use of lethal force as excessive.

The U.S. Border Patrol said the incident occurred in a rugged section of the Otay Mountains near San Diego where the agent was trying to arrest several immigrants who crossed the border illegally.

Two other undocumented migrants were arrested and in custody, the agency said.

The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department, which is investigating the killing, said in its account that two Border Patrol agents were trying to detain a group of suspected undocumented migrants in rugged terrain in the mountain’s White Cross area about four miles east of the Otay Mesa border crossing.

The border patrol agent who fired his service weapon suffered minor injuries, the sheriff’s homicide unit said.

CNN’s Jaqueline Hurtado contributed to this report.

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