CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Bob Hilliard announced yesterday, October 11, 2016, that the United States Supreme Court granted his request on behalf of his client to determine if a Mexican citizen standing in Mexico has protections against being wrongly shot by a border patrol agent standing in the United States. Fifteen-year-old Sergio Adrian Hernandez Guereca, an unarmed teenager, was playing with his friends in a cement culvert near the U.S./Mexico border and was shot in the head in June 2010 by U.S. Border Patrol agent, Jesus Mesa, Jr.
Said Bob Hilliard, the lead attorney representing the Hernandez family, “It cannot be the law of our land that innocent Mexican children can be killed at the hands of border patrol agents with no legal consequence. If total civil immunity for the actions of these agents continues then there will continue to be a ‘shoot to kill’ attitude by some rogue agents knowing they have no fear of judicial review for their conduct.
“Our Constitution is made of strong enough fabric to offer its protections to the most vulnerable and innocent of our southern neighbors standing mere feet from our border. In fact, it was so designed and intended for such use.
“The Supreme Court will now have an opportunity to determine and reconfirm that our Constitution was, by intentional design, meant to be a functional instrument of strength and practical application, not a static piece of aged brittle paper. I look forward to arguing on behalf of the Hernandez family and the memory of Sergio in support of an ideal and a law, constitutionally grounded, that will actually save innocent lives.
“The shooter’s conduct should be subject to review and accountability. Instead, though the bullet that killed Sergio only traveled 30 feet from gun barrel to the boy’s brain, now, the government argues that the invisible line separating our countries is impenetrable when those injured try and seek justice against the shooter. The fatal bullet flew across our border unaffected by our country’s boundaries and then into Sergio’s body, killing him instantly. But, when Sergio’s family seeks justice for their dead son, that same border suddenly becomes bullet proof? Death is death. Over the last decade we have watched the increasing frequency of unprovoked and unjustified shootings of Mexican nationals standing in our border’s shadow and in their home soil.
Steve Shadowen, another attorney for the family stated, “We are very pleased that the Supreme Court has agreed to review the Obama Administration’s assertion that U.S. Border patrol agents can direct fatal gunfire across the southern border without any judicial review.”
“My son was not a criminal. He was a high school student,” said Jesus Hernandez, Sergio’s father, during a phone interview. “He was simply standing on the border of Ciudad Juarez like so many other children often do. The way in which they took his life was beyond cruel.
“I am asking that the Supreme Court stand with me for the dignity of my son’s life. He was an innocent child who had the right to continue living.”
“Don’t they have children?” asked Maria Guereca, in reflecting on how Border Patrol Agent Mesa ended her young son’s life. “My son had many hopes, many dreams to move ahead. They didn’t let him realize his dreams. They killed him. Along with him, they took my life away, because he was everything to me. To lose a child is the saddest and cruelest form of pain. I am simply asking the Supreme Court for justice.”
In Sergio’s case, the Fifth Circuit initially ruled in favor of Fourth Amendment protections for Sergio, and then vacated a prior panel decision at the request of the government and determined that in fact Hernandez’s family couldn’t sue under the Fourth Amendment because Hernandez was a Mexican citizen, on Mexican soil and had no “significant voluntary connection” to the U.S. The court disagreed on whether Mesa’s actions violated Hernandez’s Fifth Amendment due process rights but agreed that any right Hernandez had as a foreign national would not have been clear to Mesa at the time of the shooting. Mesa did not know the nationality of Hernandez when he fired his weapon. The Supreme Court will now decide the issue.
Hilliard Muñoz Gonzales LLP (HMG) specializes in mass torts, personal injury, product liability, commercial and business litigation, and wrongful death. Hilliard Muñoz Gonzales LLP has been successfully representing clients in the United States and Mexico since 1986. Bob Hilliard obtained the Largest Verdict in the country in 2012 and the #1 verdict in Texas, he currently is co-lead counsel in the single biggest litigation in US history, GM’s ignition switch defect litigation, currently pending in the Southern District of New York.