Family of border slaying victim vows to pursue suit vs. US

2013-08-13T00:00:00Z 2013-08-13T09:24:54Z Family of border slaying victim vows to pursue suit vs. USPerla Trevizo Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
August 13, 2013 12:00 am  • 

The family of a teen killed by a Border Patrol agent said it will keep fighting after the Justice Department decided not to pursue criminal charges.

"We will continue to demand justice," Guadalupe Guerrero said softly during a news conference Monday in front of a mural of her son, Carlos LaMadrid, near North Fourth Avenue in Tucson.

Guerrero is suing the government in federal court.

The Douglas teen was shot in the back several times on March 21, 2011, as he tried to evade authorities and cross into Agua Prieta.

The Justice Department announced Friday that it was closing the case of LaMadrid. It also closed the probe of the fatal shooting of Ramses Barron Torres, who was shot by an agent in 2011.

On both cases, the department concluded there wasn't enough evidence to file federal civil-rights charges or to prove the agents weren't acting in self-defense.

On the Barron Torres case, it also said it lacked jurisdiction because he was slain on the Mexico side of the border as agents fired across the fence from Nogales, Ariz.

Zelma Barron Torres, Ramses' mother, couldn't be reached for comment Monday.

"There have been 19 people killed in the last two years along this (southern) border," said Isabel Garcia, a local attorney and activist. "We are asking for justice and for an end to this impunity," she said during the conference.

Agents are rarely criminally charged or their identities disclosed. The Guerrero family got a court order to learn the name of the agent who shot LaMadrid so they could serve him with legal papers.

The Cochise County Attorney's Office said Monday that it will review the LaMadrid case one more time before making any public comments. It did not give a timeline.

County Attorney Ed Rheinheimer said in December he made his decision on whether to prosecute the agent involved, but he was waiting for federal authorities to make their call so as not to influence their decision, the Arizona Daily Star reported.

Many shootings, including these two, involve rock throwing.

Border Patrol agents are taught to use deadly force only when they or someone else are threatened with death. Rocks are considered to be potentially lethal.

The Guerrero family is also asking the federal government to change the Border Patrol's use-of-force policies, said Jesus Romo, one of two attorneys representing them.

The Department of Homeland Security said last year it was reviewing the agency's policies as a result of these incidents. The office of public affairs said Monday there's still no completion date, but it expects it to be soon.

The Senate's immigration reform bill requires the Department of Homeland Security to issue policies regarding the use of force, including requiring to report each incident; establishing procedures for investigating complaints; and reviewing all uses of force.

After more than two years since LaMadrid's shooting, his family said it just want answers.

"We want to know why," said Reyna Guerrero, Guadalupe's sister. "We need answers, and we are not going to stop until we get them."

Carlos LaMadrid

In March 2011, a report to Douglas police said a gold Chevrolet Avalanche had been loaded with bundles of marijuana.

Police officers saw LaMadrid's truck and followed him.

The 19-year-old drove to the border and ran toward the fence. As he climbed a ladder up the fence, other men in Agua Prieta threw brick-size rocks at the agent.

Border Patrol agent Lucas Tidwell then fired a handful of rounds, and LaMadrid tumbled off the ladder. He was pronounced dead at a hospital.

The Justice Department said he was in the line of fire, which the family disputes.

Source: Police reports

Ramses Barron Torres

On Jan. 5, 2011, Border Patrol agents responded to reports of people moving drugs across the border.

When the agents arrived, Barron-Torres, 17, and three others started to throw rocks at them from the Nogales, Mexico, side.

The agents took cover and told them to stop, but they refused. One agent, who hasn't been identified, fired at Barron Torres.

An autopsy determined the cause of death was a bullet that entered through his right arm and went through his chest, puncturing his lungs and spleen.

Source: News reports, Justice Department.

The shootings

Contact reporter Perla Trevizo at ptrevizo@azstarnet.com or at 573-4213.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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