publicidad
María Guadalupe Güereca shows photos of her son Sergio Adrián "Keko" Hernández, who died at age 15 on the U.S.-Mexico border.

Her son died in Mexico from a bullet fired by a U.S. border agent. Seven years later, she waits for justice.

Her son died in Mexico from a bullet fired by a U.S. border agent. Seven years later, she waits for justice.

The case of Sergio Adrian Hernández, who died at age 15, goes before the U.S. Supreme Court this month.

Video: These parents lost their son to a bullet fired by a U.S. border agent Univision

CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico.- The body of Sergio Adrian Hernández lay on the dry riverbed of the Rio Grande, just a few feet from the puddles of water that mark the border between the United States and Mexico.

publicidad

A bullet fired by a U.S. Border Patrol agent on the U.S. side had hit the unarmed 15-year-old in the head. He collapsed on the Mexican side and died a few minutes later, at the foot of a bridge used for legal border crossings by millions of pedestrians and vehicles each year.

A sign on the crossing now reads: “Your mother and brothers remember you.”

Hernández was shot on June 7, 2010, and the case remains open. But the U.S. Supreme Court, the highest legal authority in the nation, will decide this month if the teenager's family has the right to sue the Border Patrol agent for the death.

“He didn't have a right to kill him just because he was Mexican and was on Mexican soil,” said Hernandez' mother, Maria Guadalupe Güereca. “Of course not!”

A divided Supreme Court

The boy's father, Jesus Hernández, 63 and a car wash attendant, said nothing on Feb. 21 of this year as he left the family's home on the southern edge of Ciudad Juarez, where the city disappears into the desert, in a neighborhood without paved streets or running water.

He found an isolated spot and knelt. And he prayed. “Lord, thy will be done.” As he did so, eight justices of the U.S. Supreme Court were hearing his lawyers' arguments in Washington.

El Río Grande, que separa El Paso (a la derecha) y Ciudad Juárez (a la i...
The Río Grande, which separates Ciudad Juarez (left) and El Paso, at the point where 15-year-old Sergio Adrián Hernández died.

The Supreme Court is not ruling on whether the Border Patrol agent was wrong to fire at Hernández. It will rule only on whether the family of a foreign citizen killed in another country by a U.S. official has the right to sue him in a U.S. court.

Only eight of the nine Supreme Court justices heard the arguments in February because Justice Neil Gorsuch had not yet been confirmed by the Senate.

The justices appeared to be deeply divided on the issue. The progressive justices appeared to believe that the death took place in no-man's land because it was not clear where U.S. jurisdiction ended and Mexican jurisdiction began. Conservative justices appeared to fear that a Hernandez family victory would open the door to thousands of lawsuits for deaths caused by U.S. forces anywhere in the world.

publicidad

The Hernandez family's lawyers argued that the U.S. Constitution is valid in the region where the two countries meet – and that therefore the Fourth and Fifth Amendments should protect their son from police brutality and official immunity.

“They are free to kill a Mexican citizens in Mexican territory without consequences,” said attorney Robert Hilliard.

“Right now the border is a free kill zone," said attorney Robert Hilliard, who presented the family's case to the Supreme Court. “They are free to kill a Mexican citizen in Mexican territory without consequences.”

“There's anarchy because the Constitution has no effect on security forces when they are on U.S. territory,” the lawyer added. “They are free to kill a Mexican citizen in Mexican territory, but also a U.S. citizen on Mexican territory.”

Six shot to death on Mexican territory

“When I thought everything was lost, the lawyer called me,” said Hernández' mother. He said: “You know what, ma'am? … Your son's case is going to the Supreme Court.”

That's how Güereca, 60, learned in October that the high court had agreed to hear the appeal to rulings by federal district and appeals courts that had turned down the lawsuit. She was getting off a bus after a nearly 370 mile trip from the border town of Nogales.

publicidad

She had been in Nogales for an annual protest against fatal Border Patrol shootings of people on the Mexican side of the border. “There's the case of Sergio, of Jose Antonio, of Anastasio, in Tamaulipas. There are many, there are many,” she said.

The American Civil Liberties Union has reported at least 53 deaths caused by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agents between 2010 and 2016. Hernández and five others were shot to death on Mexican territory. Agents claimed the victims were throwing rocks at them from the other side.

The future of the other cases hangs on the Supreme Court ruling in the Hernández-Güereca case later this month.

One version: A kid's game

Hernandez' mother said she did not even put her shoes on, just ran “like a crazy woman” to the border crossing after she heard about the shooting. She saw her son's body on the side of the river, from a distance, and a Mexican official told her the teenager had just been pronounced dead.

The boy's father had to rush in from further away, hitchhiking in cars and trucks. By the time he got to the scene, only the stains of the tragedy remained.

From the start, the family claimed the boy was simply playing with friends on the river, running to touch the border fence and then running back to the Mexican side. They denied that he had crossed the fence, was throwing rocks at the Border Patrol agent or helping to smuggle immigrants.

“And anyhow, even if he had thrown a rock, what's a rock against a bullet,” said the mother, who has been separated from the boy's father for more than a decade. She sold her house to pay off debts and now lives with a daughter.

publicidad

Another version: Migrant trafficking

The day after the boy's death, on June 8, 2010, an FBI statement said the Border Patrol agent who fired had run into a group of young smugglers who surrounded him and threw rocks at him.

One day later, a cellphone video recorded from the border bridge and provided to Univision contradicted the U.S. version. The video showed the youths did not surround the U.S. agent, and that Hernández did not throw rocks before he was shot.

The U.S. Department of Justice and lawyers for the Border Patrol agent argue that he was justified to fire in self-defense. Defense documents in the case allege that Hernández was trafficking migrants and claim the agent has immunity.

“And anyhow, even if he had thrown a rock, what's a rock against a bullet,” said the mother of Sergio Hernández, who has been separated from the boy's father for more than a decade.

Univision Noticias requested an interview with the agent's lawyers several times but never received a reply.

The agent, Jesús Mesa Jr., was not dismissed by the Border Patrol. The Customs and Border Protection agency would not say whether he continues to work for the agency, saying it does not comment on cases under litigation.

Added fuel for U.S.-Mexico tensions

The Mexican government can do little about the case. It has filed several complaints with U.S. Courts, but it cannot put the Border Patrol agent on trial unless the U.S. Government extradites him. Mexican authorities have said their northern neighbor is not respecting Hernández' basic human rights.

The Supreme Court ruling will come at a tense time in U.S.-Mexico relations, following the election of President Donald Trump and his harsh immigration and border policies.

publicidad

Hernández's funeral drew a large crowd, and the anger unleashed by the death of the teenager known as Keko are still visible.

María Guadalupe Güereca sube cada lunes a un cementerio del oeste de Ciu...
Every Monday, María Guadalupe Güereca visits a cemetery in the western part of Ciudad Juarez to visit the grave of her youngest son, Sergio Adrián "Keko" Hernández.

A sign saying “Rest in peace Keko” now marks the house where he lived, and four big yellow letters spell Keko next to the riverbed where he died.

His father carries photos of Hernández and newspaper clips about his case in his backpack as he heads to work. He drives on an empty and dusty road, from where he can see the twin cities of Ciudad Juárez in Mexico and El Paso in Texas. The border is invisible, and the two cities look like one huge urban sprawl.

Tears fill his eyes whenever he talks about his son, and he says he's ashamed that he never spent enough time with the boy. “There's been problems in my life, but nothing tortures me like this one,” he said.

The boy's mother seems to stare into the distance a lot, tired after so many hours of crying. She once dreamed that her son told her to stop crying for him, and now tries not to shed tears.

publicidad

At the cemetery, sitting on the adjoining tomb of someone named Alvaro, she dabs a tear with the same blue rag she has been using to clear her son's tombstone of the desert dust that covers much of Ciudad Juarez. She is here every Monday.

“I talk to him,” she said. “And I ask him, what were you doing there? Why did you have to go there?”

In photos: How the case of Mexican teenager Sergio Adrián Hernández made it to the Supreme Court
A scene form the new documentary A Long Way From Home about the desegregation of professional baseball.
Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz reacted to comments on Twitter by President Trump in which he said Puerto Ricans “want everything done for them."
It is estimated that there are almost as many Puerto Ricans living off the island as the 3.4 million that reside there. After Hurricane Maria, almost all communication was lost between those on the island and in the diaspora. Univision sent a reporting team to the island before Maria's arrival. Part of their job now is helping connect families.
Two reporters from Univision News followed the track of Hurricane Maria, starting from the southeast where the eye made landfall all the way to the capital. This is what they saw from the road ...
An "extremely dangerous" Category 4 hurricane, Maria made landfall near Yabucoa in southeast Puerto Rico, causing widespread flooding across the U.S. territory of 3.4 million inhabitants. Maria caused rivers to flood all over the island. This video was taken in Guayama, on the south coast.
After a strong earthquake shook Mexico City, thousands of people evacuated their homes. The epicenter was 7.5 miles southeast of Axochiapan, in the state of Morelos.
Had Irma tracked 50 miles further north along Cuba's coast, the results could have been dramatically different, meteorologists say, causing devastation to the densely populated Greater Miami region. Also by tracking up Florida's west coast close to the shoreline deprived Irma of the warm Gulf water that fuels storms. Here is a compilation of the hurricane satellite images shared by NASA on social media.
The program was established in 2012 by President Barack Obama to protect certain undocumented immigrants from deportation.
Nilsa Huete is an undocumented Honduran immigrant living in Key West, Florida. In the last five months, five of her family members have been arrested by agents from the Monroe County Sheriff's Office. Now she’s fighting against the deportation of her daughter and brother.
Christopher Barker, leader of the 'Loyal White Knights' of the Ku Klux Klan and his wife Amanda Barker discussed their views on President Donald Trump during an exclusive interview for Aquí y Ahora.
That's what Christopher Barker, leader of the KKK's 'Loyal White Knights,' told Univision's late night news anchor in an interview for Aquí y Ahora. "To me you're a ni**er," he added.
Those were the words of Christopher Barker, a leader of the Ku Klux Klan's 'Loyal White Knights' during an interview with Univision's late night news anchor, Ilia Calderon, for the show Aquí y Ahora.
During an interview with Chris Barker, a leader of Ku Klux Klan's 'Loyal White Knights,' the Univision News anchor sought answers to questions about the group's beliefs on race.
Univision got exclusive access to the Border Patrol's only facility in the country where agents train to search for tunnels used to transport drugs and other illicit materials, in Nogales, Arizona.
Although the deportation numbers for Donald Trump's administration have kept pace with the Obama administration, images of operatives and arrests, hate attacks on different minorities, and the President's own pronouncements have triggered alarms in the immigrant community ... and fear. One of Trump's most vocal campaign promises has begun to come true. And we are not talking about the physical wall, but a deeper, taller and more effective one: the wall of fear.
Jose Castillo's fear since Donald Trump became president turned into terror. The man who lived in the U.S. for more than 15 years fled his home country after gangs threatened to kill him. A few months ago, he stopped driving and sought shelter at a church in New York. From there, he asked the Canadian government for asylum.
Al Punto
Toda la información noticiosa de este país latinoamericano
El Free-guey show puso su granito de arena en 'Spirit Day'
Los locutores del show radial vespertino y Luis Sandoval de Despierta América se unieron para aumentar la concienciación de la campaña 'I'm Against Bullying' o 'Estoy En Contra del Acoso'.
Ninel Conde está en todo: novela, teatro, entregas de premios, 'reality shows' y hasta en el fútbol
Actualmente Ninel se encuentra en la novela 'En tierras salvajes', condujo los Premios Bandamax, en la obra de teatro 'Las Arpías', en una campaña de Univision Deportes, y como juez invitada en Mira Quién Baila. ¿De dónde saca tanto tiempo?
publicidad
CPS deberá garantizar servicios para el desarrollo académico y social de niño con autismo
La familia del menor, con la colaboración de la organización Equip For Equality, logró ganar una audiencia contra las Escuelas Públicas de Chicago, luego de que le cambiaran la escuela y le eliminaran el transporte público al niño con discapacidad. Esta decisión surgió porque no se le fue asignado un intérprete profesional al menor.
Prueba superada: Florida evita un segundo Charlottesville, pero Spencer seguirá su gira de provocación y odio
El racista Richard Spencer fue acallado por cientos de estudiantes (aunque muchos prefirieron ignorarle) pero consiguió la publicidad que buscaba para venderse como mártir de la Primera Enmienda. Por fortuna no se repitió la violencia de agosto en la Universidad de Virginia.
‘FLAS’, la fundación que apoya a quienes necesitan orientación para encontrar su identidad
En esta organización se brinda ayuda para quienes sufren de depresión porque sus familias no comprenden su inclinación sexual debido al gran tabú que aún existe en torno al tema.
Investigan la extraña muerte de una bebé hallada desnuda y cubierta de un polvo blanco
Las autoridades encontraron a la recién nacida junto a su hermana y la madre de ambas, inconscientes, desnudas y cubiertas por una sustancia blanca en un estacionamiento en el sur de Los Ángeles. La mujer y la niña de 8 años permanecen hospitalizadas.
Fútbol
Toda la información y noticias sobre lo último del fútbol mundial
Wilmer Azofeifa dispara, la defensa de Olimpia desvía y Santos de Guápiles ya gana 1-0
El conjunto costarricense está sorprendiendo al hondureño en el juego de ida de la final de la Liga Concacaf.
Los Dodgers regresan a la Serie Mundial después de 29 años
Los Angeles Dodgers derrotaron en el quinto juego a los Chicago Cubs, defensores del título, por 11-1 para quedarse con la serie de campeonato de la Nacional.
Detrás de cámaras: el juego de Mateus Uribe tiene asombrado al ‘Perro’ Bermúdez
Durante un paso a comerciales, el experto elogió el buen rendimiento del volante con el América. El Clásico Nacional y el bajo nivel del arbitraje, otros temas que se trataron en el receso.