By Steve Neavling
The U.S. government was ordered to pay nearly $500,000 to an undocumented immigrant from Mexico who was shot by a Border Patrol agent on Nov. 16, 2010, the USA Today reports.
U.S. District Court Justice James Soto said the agent’s “use of force was not justified” because the plaintiff, Castro Romo, “was not in the motion of throwing a rock at Canales.”
“Put more bluntly,” the judge wrote, “a rock is not as deadly an object as a gun and requires a greater degree of certainty that the object will be used than the threat or perceived threat of a gun.”
It’s not yet clear how the ruling will impact Border Patrol agents, who killed at least nine people for allegedly throwing rocks since 2010.
“The court has put some strength into the idea that you can’t just say ‘he had a rock in his hand so it was justified,’ which was their successful default defense for many shooting deaths,” said Texas attorney Bob Hilliard, who is representing families in three wrongful-death cases against Border Patrol agents who shot alleged rock throwers. “He’s saying you have a professional duty to exercise reasonable care. … It still gives Border Patrol agents the power to defend themselves, and it gives Mexican nationals under arrest their constitutional protections.”