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Fatal shooting in Texas again raises Mexico’s ire over police killings

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MEXICO CITY — For the second time in barely two weeks, Mexico has reacted angrily to the killing of an unarmed Mexican immigrant by municipal police officers in the United States.

Mexico’s Foreign Secretariat issued a statement Wednesday condemning the Grapevine, Texas, Police Department for the fatal shooting of a Mexican national, Ruben Garcia Villalpando, 31, on Friday and complaining that the police department had waited four days before notifying the Mexican Consulate in Dallas of his death.

The statement called the delay a “notorious violation” of a global 1963 treaty that orders nations to notify other states 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” over alleged police abuse of minorities.

Neither Garcia nor Zambrano was armed.

Mexico is growing increasingly vehement in its protests of what it calls “disproportionate use of force” by law enforcement officers in the United States against immigrants.

At the request of McClatchy Newspapers, a Foreign Secretariat spokesman, Salvador Musalem Santiago, issued a tally that said 75 Mexicans have been slain by law enforcement in the United States since Jan. 1, 2006.

He said agents of the U.S. Border Patrol had killed 26 Mexicans. The rest were slain by local or state police or highway patrol officers, or other law enforcement agencies, he noted.

In only nine cases have Mexican relatives been offered compensation for the fatal shootings, Musalem said.

Grapevine Police Officer Robert Clark stopped Garcia, a mechanic, last Friday while responding to a burglar alarm that was determined to have been triggered by mistake.

According to a Grapevine police report, Clark spotted Garcia pulling out of a parking lot at high speed and weaving amid traffic before finally pulling off to a shoulder of Texas 121 in Euless, getting out of his Toyota pickup and putting his hands in the air and walking toward Clark’s patrol car despite warnings to halt. Grapevine and Euless are both suburbs of Fort Worth.

Two shots rang out, and Garcia slumped over dead.

Clark’s interaction with Garcia was recorded by a video camera on the dashboard of Clark’s patrol car, though not the shooting itself.

The video has not been released to the public, but a leader of one Hispanic activist group, Carlos Quintanilla of Accion America, told a local Fox affiliate that he had seen the dashcam footage.

“When the officer said, ‘Don’t move, mother F,’ he stayed there. And for one reason or another, Ruben begins to walk toward the police officer and that one second passed and the officer fired twice — pop! pop! — and Ruben was dead,” Quintanilla told Fox.

Garcia, a native of Mexico’s Durango state, had been in the United States for more than a decade, family members told news outlets in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

Zambrano’s Feb. 10 killing drew protests from President Enrique Pena Nieto, the lower house of Congress, the Foreign Secretariat and numerous politicians.

A civilian caught the daylight shooting of Zambrano on a cellphone, showing three Pasco police officers chasing Zambrano across a street. The Mexican turned toward the officers and began to lift his arms when the officers’ 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 of Pasco alleging that three officers killed the unarmed man using excessive force. The FBI says it is looking into the death.

The killings of Mexican migrants have triggered new allegations 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, Missouri, killed an 18-year-old unarmed black man.

That killing sparked days of vigils, lootings and street protests. Further protests broke out after a Nov. 24 grand jury decision not to indict the officer in the shooting.

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