Bor­der guards cause boy’s death

The Star Early Edition - - WORLD -

CRUZ Ve­lazquez Acevedo be­gan con­vuls­ing shortly af­ter he drank the liq­uid metham­phetamine he’d brought with him from Ti­juana, Mex­ico.

The 16-year-old had just crossed the US-Mex­ico bor­der to San Diego and was go­ing through the San Ysidro Port of En­try. He was car­ry­ing two bot­tles of liq­uid that he claimed was ap­ple juice. US Cus­toms and Bor­der Pro­tec­tion of­fi­cers told him to drink it to prove he wasn’t ly­ing, court records say.

A sur­veil­lance video pub­lished by ABC on Fri­day, about three-anda-half years af­ter Acevedo’s death, shows the teen tak­ing a sip of the liq­uid af­ter one of the two of­fi­cers, Va­lerie Baird, mo­tioned for him to drink. He took an­other sip af­ter the other of­fi­cer, Adrian Per­al­lon, made a ges­ture with his hand, ap­pear­ing to tell him to drink more. The teen took four sips. Then, he be­gan sweat­ing pro­fusely. He screamed and clenched his fists. In a mat­ter of min­utes, his tem­per­a­ture soared, his fam­ily’s at­tor­ney said. His pulse reached an alarm­ing rate of 220 beats per minute – more than twice the nor­mal rate for adults.

“Mi corazón! Mi corazón!” Acevedo screamed, ac­cord­ing to court records – “My heart! My heart!”

He was dead about two hours later.

The US has since agreed to pay Acevedo’s fam­ily $1 mil­lion (R13m) in a wrong­ful-death law­suit brought against two bor­der of­fi­cers and the US gov­ern­ment.

The fam­ily’s at­tor­ney, Eu­gene Iredale, ac­knowl­edged that the teen did some­thing wrong when he tried to bring drugs into the US on Novem­ber 18, 2013.

“But he’s a 16-year-old boy with all the im­ma­tu­rity and bad judg­ment that might be char­ac­ter­is­tic of any 16-year-old kid,” 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.

“It wasn’t a death penalty case. To cause him to die in a hor­ri­ble way that he did is some­thing that is ex­e­crable.”

Iredale said he does not know where or how Acevedo got the drugs, or why he brought them into the US.

“It’s typ­i­cal for peo­ple who are drug smug­glers to ap­proach kids and of­fer them $150 to smug­gle drugs across the bor­der,” he said. “We’re never go­ing to know in this case. He knows it’s some­thing he shouldn’t be bring­ing.”

The boy was taken to a hos­pi­tal, where he was ater pro­nounced dead, al­most an hour af­ter he had sipped the metham­phetamine.

Iredale called the of­fi­cers’ treat­ment of Acevedo “the most in­hu­man kind of cru­elty”. Wash­ing­ton Post

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