TUCSON, Arizona – The family of 19-year-old U.S. citizen Carlos La Madrid feels that his March 21 death at the hands of a Border Patrol agent is one more consequence of the militarization of the frontier zone and is demanding that the details of the case be clarified.
“The agent who shot Carlos was his judge and executioner. He didn’t give him any chance to defend himself before a court,” the dead man’s aunt, Carmina Guerrero, told Efe.
On March 21, according to the Cochise County Sheriff’s Office, La Madrid along with a companion were traveling in a pickup truck trying to escape from U.S. authorities in the direction of the border fence, intending to cross over to the Mexican side.
When La Madrid got out of the truck he climbed up a ladder that had been placed beside the wall and a Border Patrol agent whose identity has not been revealed shot him.
The agent said, according to the document, that he fired in self defense because stones were being thrown at him from the Mexican side.
The authorities investigating the case, among them the FBI, said that inside the abandoned pickup truck they found 48 pounds of marijuana, something that the dead man’s family categorically denies.
“Why didn’t they tell me then, then? Why did they have to wait to say that they found drugs?” mother Guadalupe Guerrero asked in an interview with Efe.
La Madrid was hit in the back by three bullets.
The mother is also complaining about the time that her son spent lying on the ground after being shot before he was taken to a local hospital, where he died.
“They didn’t give him the required first aid. More than an hour passed before they took him to the hospital,” she said.
The family believes that the border agents were “surprised” when they learned that Carlos was a U.S. citizen and not an undocumented migrant.
“My nephew is not the only victim of the militarization of the border. We’ve seen cases of other boys all along the border with Mexico whom they’ve also killed from behind. They killed them without mercy, without giving them the chance to defend themselves,” said Carmina Guerrero.
In the family’s collective opinion, the death of La Madrid, a student at Douglas Community College, also comes in response to the anti-immigrant sentiment that exists in Arizona and the rest of the country.
“My son looks Hispanic. We’re sure that if this had been about an Anglo-Saxon they would have treated him differently,” said Guadalupe Guerrero.
In the past 12 months there have been 13 reported cases of killings by Border Patrol agents along the U.S.-Mexico frontier, including one that occurred on June 15, 2010, when an agent fired at a 15-year-old Mexican boy when the group he was traveling with tried to illegally enter El Paso, Texas.
Shawn Moran, vice president of the National Border Patrol Council, said that attacks with stones against agents are a constant danger and several agents have been injured in such instances.
Meanwhile, the Border Patrol has not commented on the La Madrid case, which is still under investigation.
“Nobody has wanted to give me an explanation of the death of my son. Nobody has told me what happened,” said La Madrid’s mother, who emphasized that neither the Border Patrol nor the FBI had interviewed her and she had not been provided with any death certificate. EFE