MEXICO CITY (AP) — A 16-year-old U.S. citizen died from a shotgun blast to the head that was fired by a police officer in a small town in southern Mexico, authorities said.
The Oaxaca state prosecutor’s office said Wednesday night that the boy, Alexander Martínez Gómez, was one of nine youths traveling down a street when shots were fired. A 15-year-old boy was also wounded.
The town government of Acatlan de Perez Figueroa had said in a statement that a police officer was involved in the shooting, but that it hadn’t been “in bad faith.” The officer was in custody.
Reached by phone on Thursday, a local police officer who would only identify himself as the “commander” said that the teens had been on motorcycles and failed to stop at a checkpoint.
In comments to Imagen Television, Virginia Gómez demanded justice for her son’s death.
“I want my son and here he is, dead, with a shot to the head,” said Gómez, standing over her son’s body Tuesday night.
In another video circulating on social media, Gómez said that her son and his friends had just gone to the store to buy sodas. She said the police didn’t provide first aid at the scene.
Her son had a North Carolina driver’s license on him. Some local reports said he was visiting his grandparents.
The U.S. Embassy said in a statement Thursday that it was aware of reports of the death of a U.S. citizen in the town.
“We are closely monitoring local authorities’ investigation and stand ready to provide all appropriate consular assistance,” the statement said.
The town is in an area with high levels of street crime and organized crime activity.
Various criminal groups are present in the area near the border with Veracruz, including the Jalisco New Generation cartel. The National Guard, army and state security forces have had operations in the area.
The killing comes amid greater attention to police killings and racial injustice in the United States after the death of George Floyd in police custody. Protests have spread to Mexico and last week highlighted the death of Giovanni López, a man allegedly beaten to death by police in a town south of Guadalajara, Jalisco in May.
Mexico has a long history of human rights violations by security forces.