Marine Cleared of Wrongdoing
Jun. 16, 1998
EL PASO, Texas (AP) _ A serviceman who killed a teen-ager during a border drug patrol has been cleared of wrongdoing by the Marine Corps.
A report released Monday concluded Cpl. Clemente Banuelos was protecting a fellow Marine when he shot Esequiel Hernandez Jr. last May in Redford, a rural Rio Grande community 200 miles southeast of El Paso.
According to the military, the 18-year-old Hernandez, who was out herding his goats, fired at the Marines twice and raised his .22-caliber rifle a third time when Banuelos shot him once with an M-16.
Hernandez's family disputes the military's account.
A state and a federal grand jury each declined to indict Banuelos in the shooting. An investigation by Joint Task Force 6, an agency that coordinates anti-drug missions between the military and civilian police, concluded the Marines acted within mission guidelines.
The shooting led to the suspension of armed military patrols on the border. Military officials say such operations may be discontinued altogether.