I’m just a plainspoken Colorado criminal defense lawyer, but the way I see it…
Jose Elena Rodriguez was sixteen years old when he was shot in the back of the head and killed while walking down the street of his hometown, Nogales, Mexico. One shot probably would have been enough, but to be sure, his assailants put nine more into his back. The bullets came from the United States. I don’t mean they were made in the United States: they were fired from the United States through a fence into Mexico, by Border Patrol agents.
There were seven more incidents like that in nine years, when U.S. agents fired across the border into Mexico, killing people they said threw rocks at them.
The Border Patrol agent who shot Gabriel Sanchez Velasquez had the decency to kill him face to face. He said Sanchez Velasquez was grabbing for his gun and he had no choice. Sanchez Velasquez may have been on his knees begging for his life: The Pima County, Arizona, medical examiner said the man was shot from above at an “indeterminate/distant range.”
Forty-four other human beings were exterminated by border agents between 19 February 2005 and 18 February 2014, according to an investigation by The Arizona Republic. Sure, that’s only about five killings a year, and most of them were Mexicans. But it also includes thirteen U.S. citizens, a Border Patrol agent killed by “friendly fire” in an incident that involved only border patrol agents, and a twelve-year-old girl (oh wait…she was Mexican).
None of the border agents was ever indicted, or disciplined.
Things have improved since the Republic’s investigation: agents aren’t supposed to shoot anymore at moving cars that don’t pose a deadly threat; not supposed to move into the path of a car so they have to shoot or be run over; and try like the dickens not to shoot people throwing rocks when the agents have some other choice not involving killing folks.
Someone asked me the other day if I thought Ferguson might be just an aberration. You know, like New York, Cleveland, Phoenix, St. Louis, Los Angeles, Baltimore, Iberia Parish, Houston, Santa Rosa, Washington, Austin, Jonesboro, Las Vegas, Atlanta, Pasadena, Chicago, New Orleans, Gainesville, Dayton, Galveston, Orange County, White Plains, Denver, San Francisco, Oakland, Detroit, Portland, Champaign, Pensacola, Cincinnati, Fairfax County.
All those aberrations.