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Mexico angry at spate of US police shootings

05 March 2015, 10:09

Nuevo Ideal -The family of Ruben Garcia Villalpando, one of three Mexicans killed by US police in separate shootings, prays for justice in front of his picture on an altar in their home.

The government is angry, too, having expressed its "deep dismay and pain" in a new protest statement issued Monday, after the men were shot dead by officers in the United States in a two-week span in February.

Garcia, a 31-year-old father of four, was fatally shot in Texas after he was pulled over by a police officer from the town of Grapevine on February 20.

The officer made Garcia stop his car after responding to a burglar alarm, which had apparently gone off by mistake, US media reported.

When asked what caused the officer to fear for his life and shoot, Lieutenant Eric Starnes, spokesmen for the nearby Euless police department, which is investigating the case, told reporters last week: "In reviewing the (police car) video, a failure to comply with commands is what we can see."

Garcia's family said the officer shot even though the Mexican man was innocent, unarmed and had his hands up.

"The way he surrendered was not to get shot," his sister Nohemi Garcia told AFP from the family's house in Nuevo Porvenir, a 560-population village within the Nuevo Ideal municipality in Durango state.

Garcia's parents traveled to Dallas, Texas, on February 26 for the funeral of their son, whose children are between the ages of one and 10.

Since Saturday, neighbors have streamed into the Garcia family home to pay their respects.

"We demand justice for his sons, because they have the right to know that their father was not a thief," Nohemi Garcia said.

Mexico's foreign ministry strongly condemned Garcia's killing in a statement last week and complained that its consulate in Dallas only learned of the death four days later, in violation of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations.

- 'Excessive use of force' -

The ministry issued a new missive on Monday to denounce the killing of Ernesto Javier Canepa Diaz, who died on February 27 when he was shot by officers of the Santa Ana, California, police department.

The ministry did not provide details about Canepa's shooting, but it said Mexico's consul contacted the Santa Ana police chief and Orange County prosecutor to express his "deep concern" and demand an exhaustive investigation.

The three deaths "presumably involve the excessive use of force" and "cannot be seen in an isolated fashion," the statement said, voicing concern that the shootings could "break trust" between the large Hispanic community in the United States and police forces.

Also read: Police find 10 bodies in ex-crematorium in Mexico

The Mexican government asked the US Justice Department's civil rights division to follow the investigations into the shootings to ensure they are transparent.

The first death sparked protests in the northwestern US state of Washington last month.

Antonio Zambrano, a 35-year-old homeless man, was shot dead by police in the town of Pasco.

Amateur video of the shooting shows three police officers taking aim at the Michoacan state native, who was throwing rocks at them, before they chased him across a road.

Police said they had tried to subdue him with a Taser gun but Zambrano continued to attack them. In the video, the victim appears to raise his hands while running away a few seconds before he is shot dead.

- 'I'm not leaving the US' -

Since 2006, more than 70 Mexicans have died at the hands of US police or border agents, according to Mexican foreign ministry figures provided to AFP.

Like many others in his village, Garcia illegally immigrated to the United States when he was 15 years old.

He sent money back to his family every month, helping his parents increase the size of their home and open a bakery. But he never went back home because he never got documents to go in and out of the United States legally.

"I'm not leaving as long as they don't catch me or kick me out," he would tell his family on the phone.


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