A U.S. Border Patrol agent will not be charged with the murder of 17-year-old Ramses Barron-Torres after fatally shooting him two years ago.
In the early hours of Jan. 5, 2011, border patrol forces encountered five suspicious males with one holding a bundle. The patrol had been warned about a potential drug smuggling and when the men were spotted, the man holding the bundle ran back as the other four covered his retreat by pelting officers with rocks. When told in Spanish to desist, most of the men stopped throwing rocks. However, Torres continued until one of the officers fired one fatal shot through the fence.
The Justice Department acquitted the officer for two reasons. Firstly, they ruled that there was not sufficient evidence to prove that the man had not acted out of self-defense. Secondly, they claimed lack of jurisdiction since the man was killed on the other side of the fence.
This ruling has led to some public outrage. Protesters contend both grounds for acquittal are dubious. Specifically, many doubt that rock throwing necessitated the kind of escalation of force that led to Torres’ death.
Moreover, the matter of whether the Justice Department has jurisdiction over the case is a question of considerable legal interest. The actual death took place in Mexico, but the gun was fired in the United States. However, the grounds for the first claim arguably undermine the second. If a rock tossed from Mexico into the United States is grounds for a self-defense plea, doesn’t it stand to reason that a bullet fired from the United States to Mexico is ground for indictment?