The family of a Mexican teenager who died after a horrifying incident at the U.S.-Mexico border has been awarded $1 million dollars following their lawsuit against the U.S. government and the two U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers responsible for for his death.
16-year-old Cruz Velazquez Acevedo entered the United States from Tijuana, Mexico through the San Ysidro Port of Entry on Nov 18, 2013. Two border agents stopped him and asked about the amber-colored liquid he was carrying in a pair of juice bottles. They then told him, according to the family’s lawyer, “to drink the liquid to prove to them that it was fruit juice and not a drug.” After as many as four sips, the teenager began convulsing, and screaming, “Mi corazón! Mi corazón!”
He’d been ordered to drink liquid meth. Apparently, the border agents knew that he was carrying something dangerous, but they made him drink it anyway. Two hours later, he was dead.
“He’s a 16-year-old boy with all the immaturity and bad judgment that might be characteristic of any 16-year-old kid,” family attorney Eugene Iredale told The Washington Post. “He was basically a good boy, he had no record, but he did something stupid. In any event, the worst that would’ve happened to him is that he would’ve been arrested and put in a juvenile facility for some period of time.”
In a statement to the Post, the Customs and Border Protection agency confirmed that both officers involved in Acevedo’s death were still employed by the agency.
“Although we are not able to speak about this specific case,” CBP explained, “training and the evaluation of CBP policies and procedures are consistently reviewed as needed.”
According to the Los Angeles Times, Acevedo’s family sued the officers and the U.S. government, alleging “wrongful death, assault and battery, negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress.” While the lawsuit was formally settled in federal court this past January, the terms of the settlement are only now coming to light.
“The family lost their son, and the father was very committed to finding justice,”Marcela Celorio, the Mexican Consul General in San Diego, told the Times. “What’s important is that the family is at peace … with the agreement that was reached.”