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Sergio Adrian Hernandez, of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, was only 15 years old when a bullet struck his face, just under the left eye. His lifeless body collapsed under the international bridge as he desperately ran for cover. This was not one of the countless brutal killings at the hands of the drug cartels which terrorize the U.S.-Mexico border. Sergio was shot in cold blood by Border Patrol Agent Jesus Mesa, as the young boy played with friends just yards away in Mexico.
Mr. Hilliard filed suit on behalf of Sergio's family to ensure that the teen's tragic death would bring about significant reforms in the conduct of border agents. Hilliard took his fight all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court on February 21, 2017.
Speaking for the plaintiff before the eight justices, Mr. Hilliard argued for extraterritorial application of the Fourth Amendment, whether qualified immunity can be granted or denied based on facts unknown to Officer Mesa at the time of the shooting, and whether the plaintiff’s claim may be asserted under Bivens v. Six Unknown Fed. Narcotics Agents.
On June 26, 2017, the Supreme Court Justices vacated the lower court’s judgment, saying that Fifth Circuit Court made a mistake when it found that Agent Mesa had qualified immunity. SCOTUS remanded the case back to the Texas appellate court.