The US 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on Monday that the parents of Sergio Hernandez, a 15 year-old Mexican teenager who was shot and killed by Border Patrol Agent Jesus Mesa on June 7, 2010, could sue Mesa in US civil court for alleged excessive use of force. This was a reversal of the initial judgment made in Mesa’s favor in the lower Western District Court in El Paso, TX.
Jesus Hernandez and Maria Guereca brought a total of eleven claims against the US government, Mesa, and several Border Patrol supervisors, according to the text of the Appeals Court ruling. The first seven claims were brought under the Federal Tort Claims Act, based on “multiple allegations of tortious conduct,” and the next two claims involved allegations that Hernandez’s Fourth and Fifth Amendment rights were violated. The key claim, however, was that Mesa was liable under Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of Federal Bureau of Narcotics through his “use of excessive, deadly force.”
According to the text of the ruling, on the day of the shooting in 2010, Hernandez was allegedly gathered with a group of “friends” on the Mexican side of a cement culvert that separated the Texas border city of El Paso and the Mexican city of Ciudad Juárez. Advocates for the group claim they were playing a game in which they would illegally cross onto U.S. soil, run up to the barbed wire border fence and then run back. Agent Mesa detained one of Hernandez’s friends (the ruling did not explain the circumstances), after which Hernandez retreated behind the pillars of the Paso del Norte international bridge. At some point, Mesa shot at Hernandez from the US side of the border into Mexico, hitting him in the face and killing him.