Border guards cause boy’s death
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