WASHINGTON (AP) – The Supreme Court has agreed to hear an appeal from the family of a Mexican teenager who was killed when a U.S. Border Patrol agent fired across the border from Texas into Mexico.
The justices on Tuesday stepped into a case about the rights of people who are harmed by American authorities on foreign soil to have their day in U.S. courts.
The federal appeals court in New Orleans ruled that the parents of 15-year-old Sergio Adrian Hernández Guereca could not sue the agent who killed him in 2010.
The Obama administration, while calling the death tragic, urged the justices to stay out of the case.
U.S. Border Patrol agent Jesus Mesa Jr. shot Guereca in June 2010. U.S. investigators said Mesa was trying to arrest immigrants who had illegally crossed into the country when he was attacked by people throwing rocks. Mesa fired his weapon across the Rio Grande, twice hitting Hernandez Guereca.
The shooting occurred near a bridge between El Paso, Texas, and Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua.
Originally the family's lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court, where a judge ruled that they couldn't sue in the U.S. because the shooting's effects were "felt in Mexico." The three-judge panel of the 5th Circuit later held that Mesa could be sued, but a appeals court later overturned that finding. The appeals court ruled that a Fourth Amendment claim could not be asserted by a Mexican citizen on Mexican soil with no significant connection to the United States.