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Border agent won’t be charged in teen’s killing

Feds cite insufficient evidence

- The Washington Times - Monday, April 30, 2012

The Justice Department and federal prosecutors in Texas say there is insufficient evidence to pursue federal criminal charges against a U.S. Border Patrol agent who fatally shot a 15-year-old Mexican national along the Rio Grande near El Paso in June 2010.

After what the Justice Department called a "comprehensive and thorough investigation" into the shooting, prosecutors and federal investigators concluded Friday that there was insufficient evidence to pursue a criminal case against Agent Jesus Mesa Jr. in the shooting death of Sergio Adrian Hernandez-Guereca.

More than 25 law enforcement and civilian witnesses were interviewed by prosecutors and investigators from the FBI, Homeland Security, the Office of the Inspector General, the Justice Departments Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorneys Office in Texas.

The Justice Department also concluded that no federal civil rights charges could be pursued in the case since there was no evidence the agent had willfully deprived anyone of a constitutional right.

An attorney for Hernandez-Guereca's family said he will press on with a lawsuit against the agent despite the decision not to charge him. Attorney Robert Hilliard told reporters Sunday that there is no evidence the boy threw rocks at the agent before he was fatally shot.

A Texas judge last year dismissed a wrongful-death lawsuit against the U.S. government but allowed the lawsuit against Mr. Mesa to proceed.

The Mexican government condemned the shooting and some Mexican politicians demanded that Mr. Mesa be extradited to Mexico to stand trial.

After the shooting, the National Border Patrol Council, which represents all 17,000 of the agency's nonsupervisory personnel, accused the Mexican government of "grandstanding," adding that Mexico bore "quite a bit of responsibility" for the fatal shooting since it refuses to police its northern border.

Hernandez-Guereca was among a group of illegal immigrants attempting to gain entry to the United States when he was shot. Just after the shooting, Mexican federal police arrived and, at gunpoint, ordered the Border Patrol agents out of the area.

Under existing Homeland Security policy, Border Patrol agents are allowed to use lethal force against rock throwers. Hundreds of agents have been assaulted along the border in the past two years, mostly with rocks, and many of them have been seriously injured.

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