Esequiel Hernández Jr

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Esequiel Hernández
Born Esequiel Hernández Jr
(1979-05-14)May 14, 1979
Died May 20, 1997(1997-05-20) (aged 18)
Redford, Texas
Nationality American
Known for High school student killed by United States Marine Corps

Esequiel Hernández Jr (May 14, 1979 - May 20, 1997) was an 18-year-old American high school student killed on May 20, 1997 by United States Marines in Redford, Texas, located approximately one mile from the United States–Mexico border.[1] Hernández was the first American civilian to be killed by active United States Armed Forces while they were on duty since the student massacre at Kent State University in 1970[2] and led to Defense Secretary William Cohen issuing a temporary suspension of troop patrols near the U.S.–Mexico border.[3] The shooting inspired the 2005 movie The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada by Tommy Lee Jones, and the 2007 documentary The Ballad of Esequiel Hernandez.[4]

Death[edit]

U.S. Marines on drug patrol heavily camouflaged in ghillie suits came upon Hernández herding goats. The camouflaged Marines observed the 18 year old high school student from concealment at a distance of approximately 200 yards maintaining radio contact with their unit.[5] Hernández, who was carrying a .22 caliber rifle that family members said he used to fend off predators, shot in the direction of the Marines.[1] Continuing to call for Border Patrol assistance, the Marines proceeded to track Hernández for twenty minutes, until the Marine fire-team leader shot and killed Hernandez. The bullet entered Hernandez' armpit on his right side.[6]

Investigation[edit]

A congressional investigation into the killing was scheduled for September 1997.[7] A grand jury examined the fatal shooting and considered criminal charges against the four Marines,[8] but did not indict any of the Marines involved in the shooting.[9] The Justice Department subsequently dropped its investigation.[10] The Marines also investigated the killing.[11] In 1998, the U.S. government paid his family $1.9 million to settle a wrongful death claim.[12] The U.S. Marine who fatally shot Hernández was not charged.[13]

The Ballad of Esequiel Hernandez[edit]

The 2007 documentary The Ballad of Esequiel Hernandez explores his killing by Marines, analysing both sides of the issue. It won best-documentary awards at the Mexico City Film Festival and Santa Fe Film Festival in 2007 and at the El Paso festival in 2008. It is directed by Kieran Fitzgerald[14] and narrated by Tommy Lee Jones. The documentary premiered July 8, 2008 on PBS. The Ballad of Esequiel Hernandez is also a song written in 1999 by the Native American grindcore band Xool.

External references[edit]

  • PBS NewsHour with Jim Lehrer broadcast August 13, 1997 Casualties of the Drug War
  • Oversight Investigation of the Death of Esequiel Hernandez, Jr.: A Report of Chairman Lamar Smith to the Subcommittee on Immigration & Claims of the Committee on the Judiciary, House of Representatives, 150th congress. United States Government Printing, January 1998. ISBN 0-16-057719-5 ISBN 978-0-16-057719-2

See also[edit]


References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Gwynne/Marfa (1997-08-25). "Border Skirmish". Time. Retrieved 2008-07-11. 
  2. ^ Paulsen, Monte (1998-12-25). "Fatal Error: The Pentagon's War on Drugs Takes a Toll on the Innocent". Austin Chronicle. Retrieved 2008-07-11. 
  3. ^ Kasindorg, Martin (1997-07-30). "Pentagon Pulls Troops Off Drug Patrols". USA Today. Retrieved 2008-07-11. 
  4. ^ Dargis, Manohla (2005-12-14). "Dead Man Rising: An Odyssey in Texas". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-07-11. 
  5. ^ "On the Border". Hartford Advocate. 2008-06-30. Archived from the original on 2008-07-15. Retrieved 2008-07-11. 
  6. ^ "On the Border". Hartford Advocate. 2008-06-30. Archived from the original on 2008-07-15. Retrieved 2008-07-11. 
  7. ^ Wiessler, Judy (1997-07-17). "House panel plans probe of S. Texas border killing". Austin Chronicle. Retrieved 2008-07-11. 
  8. ^ Howe Verhovek, Same (1997-07-31). "Grand Jury to Examine Fatal Shooting of 18-Year-Old by Marine". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-07-11. 
  9. ^ Zeve, Charles (1997-08-14). "Grand jury doesn't indict Marine in border shooting". CNN. Retrieved 2008-07-11. 
  10. ^ Lewis, Anne S. (2008-06-06). "Tragedy on the Border". Austin Chronicle. Retrieved 2008-07-11. 
  11. ^ Major General John T. Coyne, United States Marine Corps. INVESTIGATION TO INQUIRE INTO THE CIRCUMSTANCES SURROUNDING THE JOINT TASK FORCE-6 (JTF-6) SHOOTING INCIDENT THAT OCCURRED ON 20 MAY 1997 NEAR THE BORDER BETWEEN THE UNITED STATES AND MEXICO. 07 APR 98.
  12. ^ [1]
  13. ^ Mittelstadt, Michelle (1998-02-26). "Feds won't press charges in border shooting". Austin Chronicle. Retrieved 2008-07-121. 
  14. ^ Casady, Michelle (2008-07-08). "Documentary explores Texas teen's killing by Marines". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved 2008-07-11.