FBI Opens Civil Rights Probe on Border Patrol Shooting

By Julianne Hing Jun 14, 2010

Scene where Sergio Adrian Hernandez Huereca was shot dead underneath the border crossing in El Paso June 7, 2010.

On Friday, the FBI added a civil rights investigation to its ongoing probe into last week’s Border Patrol shooting of 15-year-old Sergio Adrian Hernandez Huereca, AP reported.

Video surfaced on Thursday contradicting the FBI’s initial report of the turn of events–the FBI had issued a statement saying that the Border Patrol agent shot at people after being "assaulted" by rocks, while eyewitnesses claimed that the boys were in fact fleeing from the Border Patrol agent. The video confirmed eyewitness accounts that the Border Patrol agent indeed chased a group of people who were running toward Mexico and away from the border, and showed that the agent had pulled his gun while chasing down people who presumably were trying to enter the United States. And while the video is fuzzy, the sounds of shots are sudden and loud.

Sergio Hernandez was shot in the eye and died on the scene. The FBI’s investigation into a potential civil rights offense will look at allegations of abuse by the agent.

Mexican authorities have ruled the death an intentional homicide, opening up the unlikely possibility for the Border Patrol agent’s extradition to Mexico. Last week, Mexican President Felipe Calderon condemned the shooting and demanded a thorough investigation. Attorney General Eric Holder told reporters the teen’s death was "extremely regrettable."

Last Thursday, the family of Anastacio Hernandez, the man who was killed by Border Patrol agents at the San Ysidro, California-Tijuana border two weeks before Sergio Hernandez’s death, held a press conference announcing that they were filing an administrative complaint against the Border Patrol. Sign on San Diego reported that the family could file for a wrongful-death civil lawsuit if the federal government does not act on the Hernandez family’s complaint.

Photo: REUTERS/Alejandro Bringas