U.S. Supreme Court

Supreme Court to consider suit over border agent's shooting of teen on Mexican side of the border

  • Print.

U.S. Border Patrol

The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday agreed to consider whether a U.S. border patrol agent can be sued by the family of a teen killed by the agent on the Mexican side of the border.

The court agreed to consider the reach of the U.S. Constitution in the suit by the family of 15-year-old Sergio Hernandez, who was shot and killed by the agent in June 2010, the Los Angeles Times, SCOTUSblog and the Wall Street Journal (sub. req.) report.

The U.S. Border Patrol had said Hernandez was throwing rocks to distract agents from an immigrant smuggling operation. Cellphone videos suggested Hernandez was running away when he was shot. The family’s lawyer said he was playing a game with friends in which they dared each other to run up a culvert incline, touch the border fence, then run back to the bottom of the culvert.

The court agreed to decide two issues and asked for briefing on a third, according to SCOTUSblog. One issue is the standard for applying the Fourth Amendment outside the United States. The second is whether immunity from suit can be denied or granted based on facts unknown to the border agent, such as the victim’s legal status.

The third issue to be briefed is whether the family may sue for a constitutional violation. The United States had argued that the claim, based on the 1971 U.S. Supreme Court case Bivens v. Six Unknown Federal Narcotics Agents, could not be brought in “the sensitive cross-border context of this case.”

The case is Hernandez v. Mesa.

Give us feedback, share a story tip or update, or report an error.