Mexico says its troops killed US man
MEXICO CITY: Joseph Proctor told his girlfriend he was popping out to the convenience store in the quiet Mexican beach town where the couple had just moved, intending to start a new life.
The next morning, the 32year-old New York native was dead inside his crashed van on a road outside Acapulco. He had multiple bullet wounds. An AR15 rifle lay in his hands.
His distraught girlfriend, Liliana Gil Vargas, was summoned to police headquarters, where she was told Proctor had died in a gunbattle with an army patrol. They claimed Proctor - whose green van had a for-sale sign and his cell phone number spray-painted on the windows - had attacked the troops. They showed her the gun.
His mother, Donna Proctor, devastated and incredulous, has been fighting through Mexico's secretive military justice system ever since to learn what really happened on the night of Aug. 22.
It took weeks of pressuring U.S. diplomats and congressmen for help, but she finally got an answer, which she shared with The Associated Press.
Three soldiers have been charged with killing her son. Two have been charged with planting the assault rifle in his hands and claiming falsely that he fired first, according to a Mexican Defense Department document sent to her through the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City.
It is at least the third case this year in which soldiers, locked in a brutal battle with drug cartels, have been accused of killing innocent civilians and faking evidence in cover-ups.
Such scandals are driving calls for civilian investigators to take over cases that are almost exclusively handled by military prosecutors and judges who rarely convict one of their own.
"I hate the fact that he died alone and in pain an in such an unjust way," Donna Proctor, a Queens court bailiff, said in a telephone interview with the AP. "I want him to be remembered as a hardworking person. He would never pick up a gun and shoot someone." -Ap