The family of a Mexican teenager was awarded $1 million three years after his death caused when US border officers directed him to drink liquid meth.
Cruz Velazquez Acevedo’s family was awarded $1 million after settling a wrongful-death lawsuit against the U.S. government and two border officers, The Washington Post reported.
U.S. border officers told a Mexican teen to drink liquid meth. His family received $1 million for his death. https://t.co/P9XINg6UI0
— Washington Post (@washingtonpost) March 22, 2017
Acevedo was stopped by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers while attempting to cross into California from Mexico on Nov. 18, 2013. He was carrying his passport and border crossing card, which gives Mexican citizens entry into the U.S. for tourism purposes.
When questioned about two bottles of liquid he was carrying, the 16 year-old told the officers they contained “apple juice.”
The officers, Adrian Perallon and Valerie Baird, did not believe him and told him to drink the liquid to prove he wasn’t lying.
Moments after taking four sips, the teen began to sweat, scream and clench his fists, according to the Post. His pulse reached 220 beats per minute, twice the normal adult rate, and his temperature shot up to 105 degrees.
According to court records, Acevedo screamed, “Mi corazón! Mi corazón!” — “My heart! My heart!”
Two hours later, the teen was dead due to ingesting the liquid Methamphetamine that was in the bottle.
The officers suspected the liquid was not apple juice but, according to the family’s initial complaint, they “coerced and intimidated” him into taking a “big sip.”
The family’s attorney, Eugene Iredale, conceded that the boy’s actions were wrong but that he did not deserve to die for his poor judgement.
“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 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.”
Iredale pointed out that this was obviously not a death penalty case.
“To cause him to die in a horrible way that he did is something that is execrable,” he said. “I’m not prepared to say they knew for certain that it was going to kill him. … It’s obvious that they suspected from the beginning that it’s meth,” Iredale said. “Playing a cruel joke on a child is not something that’s justifiable in any way. They have test kits available that would’ve given results in two to three minutes.”
Although an internal affairs investigation followed the incident, neither of the officers was disciplined and they are still employed by the Customs and Border Protection in San Diego, the Post reported.
Several conversations between the parties led to the settlement, according to the family’s attorney who said Acevedo’s parents received the settlement funds in full.
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