Full Repsonse to ruling – PDF
ANNUNCIATION HOUSE PRESS STATEMENT REGARDING THE RULING IN THE CASE OF SHOOTING DEATH OF JUAN PATRICIO PERAZA
El Paso, TX – July 29, 2008 – U.S. Magistrate Judge Richard P. Mesa delivered a verdict late last Friday in the case of Cesar Peraza Barraza and Ramona Irene Quijada Soto versus the United States of America, regarding the 2003 shooting death of Juan Patricio Peraza, at the time a 19-year-old national of Mexico, by Border Patrol Agent Vernon Billings.
The ruling concluded that Billings’ use of deadly force was justified, and that Peraza’s tragic death, therefore, did not result from negligence. Annunciation House, however, views Magistrate Judge Mesa’s decision as deeply troubling and bearing significant consequences for the El Paso and greater border community.
Indeed, in places like El Paso, where the harsh realities associated with grinding poverty and immigration are a lived experience for most, and where the ubiquitous presence of the Border Patrol figures prominently in daily life, it is of the utmost importance that matters pertaining to both are treated with meticulous care.
It is nevertheless clear that, in Juan Patricio Peraza’s case, this did not occur.
The trial evidence presented to the court was shaped to a significant degree by the numerous actions and violations of fundamental Border Patrol policy and investigative procedures that transpired before and after the shooting—such as staking out a homeless shelter, failing to ascertain basic information before applying deadly force, the removal of witnesses from the scene before they could be questioned by the El Paso Police Department (EPPD), and the failure to gather information at the crime scene.