A fourth Guatemalan child has died after being in custody for weeks at the U.S./Mexico border. Veuer’s Justin Kircher has more.
The family of a young Guatemalan woman shot and killed by a U.S. border Agent last year near the Texas border is demanding $100 million in damages.
Claudia Patricia Gómez González, 20, was killed after crossing the U.S. illegally with a group of other migrants in Rio Bravo, south of Laredo, Texas.
The claim says Gómez González “posed no threat to anyone, as would have been obvious from the slightest glance.” The claim says she was unarmed and not fleeing as others in the group of migrants were.
It demands $50 million each for personal injury and what it says was Gómez González’s wrongful death.
“Her life was as valuable as anyone else’s, and her family deserves justice for their loss,” said Andre Segura, the group’s legal director. “Our government has a responsibility to treat everyone lawfully, humanely, and with respect, regardless of how they came into this country.”
U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the Border Patrol’s parent agency, declined to comment this week, the Associated Press reports.
The Border Patrol initially said a lone agent fired his gun after being attacked “by multiple subjects using blunt objects.”
The agency alleged at first that Gómez González was “one of the assailants.”
The agency’s account was revised two days later, however, when the Border Patrol said the group ignored the agent’s demands to get on the ground and “rushed him,” CBS News reports.
In the revision, it referred to the agent as a 15-year Border Patrol veteran who was responding to a report of “illegal activity” around noon near a culvert in Rio Bravo.
The agent, who was not identified, was placed on administrative leave at the time. CBP declined to comment on the agent’s status or the claim being filed. George Altgelt, a lawyer for the agent, did not return a phone message, the AP reports.
In video shot at the time by a local woman, Marta Martinez, who said she witnessed the noon-time shooting, agents can be seen performing CPR on the woman. She told KENS-TV that she saw the victim’s face covered in blood.
“I felt very angry. I don’t know if I wanted to cry because what I was seeing, but I didn’t think it was right what they did,” Martinez told KENS.
The claim is being filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas and the law firm of Kirland and Ellis on behalf of the family. The tort claim is a prerequisite to filing a lawsuit against the U.S. government.
“It’s been more than a year and the U.S. government still has not held the agency or the agent who shot and killed her responsible,” said Andre Segura, legal director for the ACLU of Texas. “It is crucial to hold our government accountable and we will pursue every avenue to make sure action is taken to obtain justice for Claudia and prevent further needless loss of life.”
The victim’s father, Gilberto Gómez Vicente, in a statement released by the ACLU, called his daughter “a kind, loving, and peaceful girl with big dreams, who would never do anything to harm anyone.”
“My promise to Claudia is to fight for justice so that her life is not forgotten and her death is not in vain,” he said.
At the time of the shooting, Guatemala’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, issued a statement condemning the killing.
“Guatemala reiterates its rejection of this type of acts of violence and any excessive use of force by the border patrol, and calls for the rights of our compatriots to be respected at all times, regardless of their immigration status, especially the right to life,” the ministry said.
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