Supreme Court rules 5-4 against parents of Mexican teen killed by Border Patrol agent in cross border shooting

In this Jan. 24, 2019 file photo, the Supreme Court is seen at sunset in Washington. The Supreme Court is ruling 5-4 to close the courthouse door on the parents of a Mexican teenager who was shot dead over the border by an American agent. The court's five conservative justices ruled Tuesday that the parents could not sue Border Patrol Agent Jesus Mesa Jr., who killed their unarmed 15-year-old son in 2010. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

By MARK SHERMAN, Associated Press  WASHINGTON (AP) 02/25 — The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 Tuesday to close the courthouse door on the parents of a Mexican teenager who was shot dead over the border by an American agent.

The court’s five conservative justices held that the parents could not use American courts to sue Border Patrol Agent Jesus Mesa Jr., who killed their unarmed 15-year-old son in 2010.

Justice Samuel Alito wrote for the court that the case is tragic, but that strong border security and international relations issues led to the ruling against the parents of Sergio Adrian Hernandez Guereca.

“Since regulating the conduct of agents at the border unquestionably has national security implications, the risk of undermining border security provides reasons to hesitate” about allowing the parents to sue in American courts, Alito wrote.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, writing for her liberal colleagues, disagreed, saying the parents’ lawsuit does not endanger border security or U.S. foreign policy.

Tuesday’s outcome also is certain to doom a lawsuit filed by the parents of a teenager killed in Nogales, Mexico, from gunshots fired across the border by a U.S. agent. That case has been on hold.

The case tested a half-century-old Supreme Court decision that allows people to sue federal officials for constitutional violations. Over the years, the courts have made it harder to bring claims, known as Bivens actions after the name of the high court case.

Ginsburg wrote that “it is all too apparent that to redress injuries like the one suffered here, it is Bivens or nothing. I resist the conclusion that ‘nothing’ is the answer required in this case.”

Justice Clarence Thomas, who was part of the court majority, said he would get rid of Bivens lawsuits altogether. Justice Neil Gorsuch joined Thomas’ separate opinion.

Alito noted that the Justice Department and the parents disagreed about the sequence of events that led to Sergio’s death. But there is no question that Mesa was standing on the U.S. side of the border when he fired into Mexico and killed him with a gunshot wound to the face.

The family said Sergio was playing a game with friends on a June evening, running through a culvert and over the border, touching it, and running back. Mesa rode up on a bicycle, took Sergio’s friend into custody, then fired across the border.

The Justice Department said Mesa was trying to stop “smugglers attempting an illegal border crossing” and fired his gun after he came under a barrage of rocks. Mesa said in court filings that Sergio was among the rock throwers. Video footage of the incident seems to dispute that.

U.S. officials chose not to prosecute Mesa, and the Obama administration refused a request to extradite him so that he could face criminal charges in Mexico. When the parents of the boy tried to sue Mesa, federal judges dismissed their claims.

The Border Patrol drastically changed its use of force policies in the years after the shooting, following several complaints of excessive force. There were 15 instances where officers and agents used firearms during the budget year 2018, down from a high of 55 reported during the 2012 budget year.

https://apnews.com/07fa8d6f69343ce8faac34f1282a5949

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Posted in: Border Control, Border Patrol, Court Rulings, National Security, Officer Safety, Policies & Practices, Shootings, U.S. Government, U.S. Supreme Court, Use of Deadly Force

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

seven − 5 =

Terms of Use for Posting Comments

Terms of Use

This site (the “Site”) is operated and maintained by Law Enforcement Education Foundation, Corporation (“Company”). Throughout the Site, the terms “we”, “us” and “our” refer to Company.  The words “user,” “you” and “your” as used herein refer to you.

Please read these terms and conditions of use (“Terms of Use”) carefully before contributing content. If you do not agree to these Terms of Use, please do not contribute content. Your use of the Site is subject to the Terms and Conditions found here .

By contributing content to the Site, you represent and warrant that you are at least eighteen (18) years old and that you have read and understand these Terms of Use and any amendments thereto and agree to be bound by them. If you are not at least eighteen (18) years old or you do not agree and accept these Terms of Use, you are prohibited from contributing content.

From time to time, we may permit users to submit content to the Site.  You hereby acknowledge and agree that by submitting remarks, comments, suggestions, ideas, graphics, feedback, edits, concepts, comments, photographs, illustrations and other materials (other than personal information and/or registration information) through the Site (individually and collectively, “Submissions”), you (i) grant us a nonexclusive, royalty-free, perpetual, transferable, irrevocable and fully sub-licensable right to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, translate, distribute, publish, create derivative works from and publicly display and perform such Submissions throughout the world in any media, now known or hereafter created, without attribution to you; (ii) grant us the right to pursue at law any person or entity that violates your and/or our rights in your Submissions; and (iii) forever waive any and all of your rights, including but not limited to moral rights, if any, in and to your Submissions, including, without limitation, any all rights or requirements of attribution or identification of you as the author of the Submission or any derivative thereof.  We reserve the right to remove any of your Submissions from the Site, in whole or in part, without notice to you, for any reason or no reason.

Submissions are made voluntarily. Any submissions which include personally identifiable information are subject to our Privacy Policy found here .  You may not upload or otherwise publish content on the Site that (i) is confidential to you or any third party; (ii) is untrue, inaccurate, false or other than an original work of your authorship; (iii) that relates to or impersonates any other person; (iv) violates the copyright, trademark, patent or other intellectual property rights of any person or entity; (v) contains any content, personally identifiable information or other information, or materials of any kind that relate or refer to any other person or entity other than the provider of the products, goods or services to which the Submission relates; or (vi) violates any law, or in any manner infringes or interferes with the rights of others, including but not limited to the use of names, information, or materials that (A) libel, defame, or invade the privacy of any third party, (B) are obscene or pornographic, (C) are harmful, threatening, offensive, abusive, harassing, vulgar, false or inaccurate, racially, sexually, ethnically or are otherwise objectionable or otherwise contrary to the laws of any place where such Submissions may be accessed; (D) constitute personal attacks on other individuals; (E) promote criminal, immoral or illegal activity; (F) promote or advertise any person, product or service or solicit funds; or (G) are deemed confidential by any contract or policy.

You are solely responsible for any Submissions you make and their accuracy. We take no responsibility and assume no liability for any Submissions posted by you or any third party.

Unless approved by us in writing in advance, you agree not to: (i) provide or create a link to the Site; or (ii) create any frames at any other sites pertaining to any of the content located on the Site.

We reserve the right, in our discretion, to update, change or replace any part of these Terms of Use for Posting Comments by posting updates and/or changes to our Site.  It is your responsibility to check this page periodically for changes.  Your continued use of, and/or access to the Site, following the posting of any changes to these Terms of Use for Posting Comments, constitutes your acceptance of those changes.