For the second time in barely two weeks, the government of Mexico has reacted angrily to the killing of an unarmed Mexican immigrant by American police officers.
Mexico’s Foreign Secretariat issued a statement Wednesday condemning Grapevine police for the fatal shooting of Mexican national Ruben Garcia Villalpando, 31, on Friday and complaining that the consulate in Dallas was not notified until Tuesday.
The statement called the delay a “notorious violation” of a global 1963 treaty that orders a nation to notify another state promptly when one of its citizens is slain.
Garcia’s death at the hands of Grapevine police occurred 10 days after police in Pasco, Wash., fatally shot another Mexican immigrant, Antonio Zambrano Montes, sparking street protests and fears of another “Ferguson moment.”
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Neither Garcia nor Zambrano was armed.
Mexico is growing increasingly vehement in its protests of what it calls the “disproportionate use of force” by American law officers against immigrants.
At the request of McClatchy Newspapers, a Foreign Secretariat spokesman, Salvador Musalem Santiago, provided a tally that 75 Mexicans have been slain by law officers in the U.S. since Jan. 1, 2006.
U.S. Border Patrol agents have killed 26 Mexicans. The rest were slain by local or state police or highway patrol officers or by other law enforcement agencies, he noted.
In only nine cases have Mexican relatives been offered compensation for the fatal shootings, Musalem said.
In the Grapevine case, the officer, identified as Robert Clark, spotted a Toyota pickup while responding to a burglar alarm shortly before midnight Friday at a business on William D. Tate Avenue, police told the Star-Telegram.
The pickup driver pulled out of the business’s parking lot at high speed and weaved in and out of traffic on Texas 121 before finally pulling over on a shoulder of the freeway in Euless. The driver, later identified as Garcia, got out of his pickup, put his hands up and walked toward Clark’s patrol car despite the officer’s calls to halt, police have said.
Two shots rang out, and Garcia slumped over. He was pronounced dead at 12:06 a.m. at John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth, according to the Tarrant County medical examiner’s office, which listed a North Richland Hills address for him.
The encounter, though not the shooting itself, was recorded by a video camera on the dashboard of the patrol car, police have said.
Garcia, a native of Mexico’s Durango state, had been in the United States for more than a decade, relatives told Dallas-Fort Worth news outlets.
On Wednesday evening, Sgt. Robert Eberling, a Grapevine police spokesman, said the department has procedures for handling the arrest of a foreign national and notifying the appropriate consulate. But he couldn’t say whether that includes after police shootings.
“We don’t have a comment on that aspect at this point,” Eberling said. “Our No. 1 concern is to finish this investigation involving the shooting. We are not even a week out. We will get to this matter when the time is appropriate, and it’s not appropriate at this juncture.”
Euless police are investigating the criminal aspect of the case while Grapevine police are conducting the administrative investigation, Eberling said.
The Grapevine police chief met with officials from the Mexican Consulate on Wednesday morning, Eberling said. The consulate also sent a letter to the Euless police chief requesting the findings of the investigation.
Lt. Eric Starnes, a Euless police spokesman, said late Wednesday that the letter had been received and that a meeting is scheduled for Thursday morning.
The Star-Telegram asked for a copy of the video taken by Clark’s dash cam.
“We are still taking statements from witnesses and have more scheduled through this weekend. Release of the video has a strong potential to affect witness testimony and for that reason I do not have an answer as to when it will be released,” Starnes said.
The Mexican consul general has sent a letter to Tarrant County District Attorney Sharen Wilson asking for “an exhaustive investigation in order to determine legal responsibility for the regrettable incident,” the news release said.
Zambrano’s killing on Feb. 10 drew protests from President Enrique Peña Nieto, the lower house of Congress, the Foreign Secretariat and numerous politicians.
A civilian with a cellphone captured the daylight shooting of Zambrano. Three Pasco police officers chased Zambrano across a street, and he turned toward them and began to lift his arms when the shots rang out.
Zambrano had had previous run-ins with the law and had reportedly been throwing rocks at vehicles before the shooting.
His family has filed a $25 million claim against the city, alleging excessive force. The FBI says it is looking into the death.
The killings have given rise to new complaints of police brutality and excessive force against unarmed minorities, evoking the tensions and nationwide street protests that erupted after a white police officer in Ferguson, Mo., killed an 18-year-old unarmed black man.
That killing sparked days of vigils, looting and rallies.
Further protests broke out after the grand jury’s decision not to indict the officer was announced Nov. 24.
Staff writer Monica S. Nagy contributed to this report, which includes material from the Star-Telegram archives.