The Mexican government said Tuesday it “regrets” the decision of a Texas grand jury not to prosecute the police officer who shot and killed an unarmed Mexican immigrant earlier this year, and reiterated demands that the U.S. review the use of lethal force by its law enforcement personnel.
The dead man’s family also expressed exasperation. “We feel such impotence, that such an injustice can happen and no one is punished,” Nohemi Garcia said by telephone from the Mexican state of Durango.
Her brother, Ruben Garcia Villalpando, was shot to death in February by a Grapevine, Texas, police officer after what police described as a high-speed chase.
In a statement released by the Mexican Foreign Ministry, the government said it would consult with the U.S. Justice Department about the possibility of pursuing a civil rights case against the Grapevine Police Department.
Garcia was one of three unarmed Mexican nationals killed by U.S. police within a month’s time. In addition to the Texas case, Mexicans were shot to death in confrontations with police in the state of Washington and in Santa Ana, Calif.
While similar killings of young black men have galvanized an angry U.S. public, the cases of the Mexicans have attracted less attention.
Police dashboard-camera video of the Garcia killing shows him emerging, hands in the air, from his car after what police described as a high-speed chase. At the time, police said they thought he might have been fleeing a location where a burglar alarm was triggered. As it turned out, that was a mistaken belief.
Police can be heard repeatedly ordering Garcia to stay at his car, but he continues to move forward. He then walks out of the view of the camera and shots are heard.
Garcia was the father of four children, ages 1 to 10. Grapevine Police Officer Robert Clark was identified as the man who killed him; a grand jury in Tarrant County, in suburban Dallas, declined to file an indictment.
In a statement, Grapevine police said Clark “acted professionally and within law enforcement best practices." A medical examiner’s report said Garcia was intoxicated at the time of the incident.
His family members are demanding a more thorough investigation and have suggested that they will sue the department. The Reuters news agency reported that a small group of people protested peacefully outside the Grapevine police station Monday night, some carrying signs and chanting "Justice Now!" and "Fire Clark, a killer!"
The Mexican Foreign Ministry said in a statement that while it respects the U.S. judicial process, it “reiterates its firm call that protocols for the use of deadly force by [law] agencies be revised given the repeated deadly incidents in recent months harming Mexican citizens.”
The civil rights division of the U.S. Justice Department is being consulted by Mexican authorities about the prospects for further legal action, the statement added.
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