Lawsuits Challenge Border Patrol Shootings, Secrecy

Lawsuits Challenge Border Patrol Shootings, Secrecy

"Bob Hilliard didn't become an attorney to take on civil rights cases.  He's a big-time personal injury trial lawyer in Corpus Christi who sues companies like GM and Coca-Cola.  His nickname is "The Bulldog."  Today, Hilliard represents families in three Border Patrol shootings where the agent was in the U.S. and the victim was in Mexico.  "I also realize their job is difficult, but it doesn't give them license to shoot and kill innocent Mexican nationals," he says.  He has filed civil wrongful-death lawsuits against the officers and the federal government in the case of Arevalo, the man shot on the banks of the Rio Grande, and in two other cases.  "There's an undercurrent of prejudice that is really just palpable to me, that you can taste, that this isn't a valuable life — this is just a Mexican who got shot, why the uproar?" Hilliard says.  The law says a foreign national cannot sue the U.S. government for an injury or death that happens outside the United States, even if it's only a few feet across the border.  A federal judge in El Paso threw out one of Hilliard's lawsuits on these grounds; it's now before the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.  So, for now, civil trials will not hold the government responsible for federal agents who kill Mexicans in Mexico.  And two recent reports reveal that the Border Patrol seldom holds its agents accountable, either." - NPR, May 15, 2014.