Border Patrol Union: OK to Shoot Rock-Throwing Mexican Teens

| by Mark Berman Opposing Views

The president of the union representing Border Patrol agents defends one of his guards for killing a Mexican teen who was throwing rocks at him, saying it was a justifiable reaction.

On Monday night an agent shot and killed a teenager during a rock-throwing incident along the Texas-Mexico border at Ciudad Juarez. T.J. Bonner, president of the union representing Border Patrol agents, said rock-throwing incidents against Border Patrol agents are common and could cause serious injury.

"It is a deadly force encounter," Bonner said. "One that justifies the use of deadly force."

The Mexican government disagrees with that assessment. It is calling for a quick and transparent investigation into the shooting. In a news release, the Foreign Ministry said:

"(Mexico) reiterates that the use of firearms to repel a rock attack represents a disproportionate use of force, particularly coming from authorities who receive specialized training on the matter."

Monday night's incident started when Customs and Border Protection Border Patrol agents responded to a report of a group of suspected illegal immigrants being smuggled across the border, FBI Special Agent Andrea Simmons said.

After one suspect was detained. "Another agent arrived on his bicycle along the cement apron that forms the riverbank on the U.S. side," Simmons said in a release. "That agent detained a second subject, Augustin Alcaraz Reyes, but other subjects ran into Mexico and began to throw rocks at the agent.

"This agent, who had the second subject detained on the ground, gave verbal commands to the remaining subjects to stop and retreat," Simmons said. "However, the subjects surrounded the agent and continued to throw rocks at him. The agent then fired his service weapon several times, striking one subject who later died."

Ciudad Juarez spokesman Sergio Belmonte identified the boy as 14-year-old Sergio Adrian Hernandez Huereca. Belmonte said Hernandez was shot in the head.

"The young man was not armed," Belmonte said. "He did not have the physical size to threaten anyone. The aggression (by the U.S. agent) is evident."

The body was found on the Mexican side of the border. FBI agent Simmons told CNN that the agent never left U.S. territory.

The FBI, which has jurisdiction in any assault on a federal officer, is leading the U.S. investigation with assistance from the El Paso Police Department, the Border Patrol and other federal agencies, Simmons said.