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Supreme Court to hear case of Mexican teen slain by US Border Agent

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The controversial shooting death of a 15-year-old by a Border Patrol agent across the U.S.-Mexico border nearly seven years ago has made its way to the Supreme Court.

On Tuesday, the court is set to hear arguments in Hernández v. Mesa, which will determine whether the family of a non-American who was killed on the Mexican side of the United States border can sue over their son’s death in U.S. federal court.

Sergio Hernández Guereca, an unarmed Mexican national, was shot and killed in the summer of 2010 by U.S. Border Patrol Agent Jesus Mesa, who was patrolling the border by bicycle.

The case reaches the Supreme Court at a time when immigration enforcement and border security have been thrust into the national spotlight by the Trump administration.

One of President Trump’s executive orders, issued on Jan. 25, called for the “immediate construction” of a physical wall on the southern border, as well as the hiring of an additional 5,000 Border Patrol agents.

How we got here

In 2010, Mesa, while standing on the U.S. side of the border, pointed his service weapon at Hernández, who was on the Mexican side of the border, and struck the teen. Hernández died at the scene of the shooting.

Beyond that, there is little agreement about what happened between the two sides. The facts of the case have never been argued in court, so for the purposes of the Supreme Court hearing, both parties will rely on the account of the facts brought by the petitioners — the Hernández family.

Hernández was playing a game with friends on the border between El Paso, Texas and Juarez, Mexico in which they would run up and touch the U.S. fence and then run back down, according to court documents.

After Mesa arrived on the U.S. side, he caught one of the boys and the other two ran behind a pillar on the Mexican side of the border. Mesa, who remained on U.S. soil, then shot Hernández as he peered out from pillar.

U.S. authorities initially claimed that Hernández was throwing rocks and Mesa had shot him in self-defense. But cellphone video later revealed that Hernández was shot as he peered his head out, according to the petitioner’s brief.

Hernández’s parents sued Mesa in federal court, but the district court dismissed the claim. The case then moved up to the Fifth Circuit of Appeals, which also sided with Mesa.

The Hernández family then appealed to the Supreme Court, which agreed to take the case in October of last year.

“We just want to prove our case in court,” said Robert Hilliard, lead attorney representing the Hernández family.

Hernández’s “parents want justice,” he said.

Mesa’s side

The Department of Justice concluded that there was insufficient evidence to prosecute Mesa under a federal homicide charge and that prosecutors lacked jurisdiction under civil rights statutes because Hernández was “neither within the borders of the United States nor present on U.S. property” at the time of the shooting, according to a DOJ announcement in 2012 when the investigation was concluded.

Mesa was charged by Mexican authorities, but was never extradited to face those charges.

“We are very confident” that the Supreme Court will find that the opinion of the Fifth Circuit is in line with the case law,” said Randolph Ortega, Mesa’s attorney.

Mesa, who is still with the Border Patrol, had to uproot his family and re-locate from the El Paso area because of death threats, said Ortega.

“It’s been extremely difficult,” he said.

Customs and Border Protection (CBP), which oversees Border Patrol, declined to comment on pending litigation.

The issue before the Supreme Court

The case brings into question the constitutional rights of non-citizens, which could potentially impact other legislation and expand the scope of U.S law.

“The Fourth Amendment protects non-citizens against the arbitrary use of deadly force at the border, at least in the context of a close range, cross border shooting in a confined area patrolled by federal agents,” argue attorneys in a brief for the petitioners.

The court is being asked to decide whether Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable search and seizure should apply when someone is not on U.S. soil, which Hernández was not.

Attorneys for Hernández argue that protections under the Constitution should apply.

He “was an unarmed civilian and a “member of an intertwined, binational community,” said the brief.

But the U.S. government, which is supporting Mesa, said in its brief that U.S. legal protections should not be expanded to non-citizens in this case. “An injury inflicted by the United States on a foreign citizen in another country’s sovereign territory is, by definition, an incident with international implications,” the brief said.

The Supreme Court will also weigh whether Mesa is entitled to “qualified immunity” — whether an officer is immune from liability for a violation of constitutional rights.

And the justices will also determine whether Hernández’s parents have standing to bring forth the claim in the first place.

Larger implications

While this case is about one incident, Hernández’s parents argue that this is a recurring problem for foreign victims who wish to make claims against the Border Patrol.

In a recent five-year span, border agents shot across the border at least 10 times, killing a total of six Mexicans on Mexican soil, according to court documents.

“There is no constitutional constraint when U.S law enforcement stands in the U.S and shoots people. There is no law that governs their conduct,” said Hilliard.

After the agency was criticized for transparency and enforcement abuse, former CBP Commissioner Gil Kerlikowske worked to change the culture of the agency, ordering limits on when agents can use their weapons and called for more accountability when civilians are shot.

Kevin McAleenan has been serving as acting commissioner since Jan. 20, 2017.

Violent encounters between CBP officers with both immigrants and American citizens reached a four-year low in 2015, dropping 40 percent from two years earlier.

But those number began to rise again in 2016, with 978 violent encounters recorded in fiscal year 2016, as well as a five-year high of assaults against CBP law enforcement officers.

CBP did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the use-of-force incidents.

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California officer shot and killed after responding to crash identified

KABC-TV(WHITTIER, Calif.) — A veteran officer was killed and another injured after a parolee opened fire on them after they responded to a traffic incident Sunday in Whittier, California, police officials said.

The officers responded to a reported incident — in which a driver, who police said was driving a stolen car, rear-ended multiple other vehicles — around 8 a.m.

Lt. John Corina of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office said the suspect, who was not named, moved his car around the corner after the collisions.

When officers arrived on the scene, the other drivers, who had refused to give the suspect a ride, indicated that he had moved his car.

The officers, who did not know at the time that the car was stolen, made contact the suspect and went to pat him down, and he pulled out a gun and opened fire, police said.

“When they got the call, it was just a traffic accident, and they didn’t know what they had,” Corina told reporters. “When they went to contact him, that’s when the shooting happened.”

Corina said the suspect was 26, a “known gang member” and was armed with a semiautomatic handgun. He was released from jail a week ago.

The officers returned fire, wounding him.

The suspect was released on parole two weeks ago and has made statements to police.

The two officers and the suspect were hospitalized after the shooting, and one officer, Keith Wayne Boyer, died at the hospital. The surviving officer, Patrick Hazel, and the suspect are in stable condition, according to Corina.

Boyer became an officer with the Whittier Police Department in 1990 and was remembered as positive and energetic, according to the department’s chief, Jeff Piper.

He was from the area and had grown children, Piper said.

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More than 60 threats to Jewish Centers across the US, authorities investigating

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — In the wake of 11 new threats Monday against Jewish centers, from New York to New Mexico, the FBI said it is investigating, along with the Department of Justice, bomb threats to the centers across the country.

Federal authorities are looking into threats communicated to at least 60 Jewish centers around the country this year. The threats started in January and the FBI began investigating later that same month. The threats have come in “different waves,” with more threats phoned in to centers Monday, according to one source familiar with the matter.

The FBI said they are “investigating possible civil rights violations in connection with threats to Jewish Community Centers.”

“The FBI will collect all available facts and evidence, and will ensure this matter is investigated in a fair, thorough, and impartial manner,” the FBI said in a statement. “As this is matter is ongoing, we are not able to comment further at this time.”

This year, a total of 69 threats to 54 JCCs have spanned 27 states and one Canadian province and came in four waves: Jan. 9, Jan. 18, Jan. 31 and then Monday, the JCC Association of North America said.

In Monday’s wave of threats 11 JCCs received bomb threats over the phone, the JCC Association of North America said. All threats were determined to be hoaxes and all JCCs returned to normal operations, they said.

The threats Monday included a JCC in St. Paul, Minnesota, a JCC in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and two Jewish centers around Buffalo, New York.

The Department of Homeland Security has also been working on this matter. Almost immediately after the threats are reported to federal authorities, the DHS is informed and disseminates the information nationwide through the Homeland Security Information Network channel “so that others can see that these calls are going on and respond accordingly,” one source said.

David Posner, director of strategic performance at JCC Association of North America, said that while the JCCs that received the threats have all resumed operations “with a heightened level of security,” he added, “we will not be cowed by threats intended to disrupt people’s lives.”

“While we are relieved that all such threats have proven to be hoaxes and that not a single person was harmed, we are concerned about the anti-Semitism behind these threats, and the repetition of threats intended to interfere with day-to-day life,” Posner said. “Local JCCs serve not just the Jewish community, but the entire community. Participants from all different backgrounds come to their local JCCs.”

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) said in a statement Monday that the threats are “alarming, disruptive, and must always been taken seriously.”

“We look to our political leaders at all levels to speak out against such threats directed against Jewish institutions, to make it clear that such actions are unacceptable, and to pledge that they will work with law enforcement officials to ensure that those responsible will be apprehended and punished to the full extent of the law,” ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said in the statement.

At a press conference last week, when a Jewish reporter started to ask President Trump about a rise in anti-Semitic incidents in the U.S., he said it wasn’t a fair question and told the reporter to sit down. Trump then said he is “the least anti-Semitic person you’ve ever seen in your entire life.”

He later responded to questions about possible anti-Semitic activity saying, “As far as people, Jewish people … I think that you’re going to see a lot different United States of America over the next three, four, or eight years. I think a lot of good things are happening, and you’re going to see a lot of love.”

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said Monday, in response to the threats, “Hatred and hate-motivated violence of any kind have no place in a country founded on the promise of individuals freedom. The President has made it abundantly clear that these actions are unacceptable.”

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Fifth-grader seeks math problem-solving help from local Ohio police department

Molly Draper(MARION, Ohio) — Police across the country are used to solving puzzles, but one Ohio police department recently got a plea for help from a local girl seeking to solve a puzzle of a more mathematical bent.

Ten-year-old Lena Draper, 10, decided she needed some help with her fifth-grade math homework, so she took to the Marion, Ohio, Police Department’s Facebook page on Friday and messaged them a few problems that she felt needed answering.

The police department came to her rescue, messaging the little girl back after she posted the math problem, (8 + 29) X 15. The police department responded with “do the numbers in the parenthesis first so in essence it would be 37 X 15.”

Lena followed up with another problem: “(90+27)+(29+15)x2”

To which the police department replied: “Take the answer from the first parenthesis plus the answer from the second parenthesis and multiply that answer by two.”

Though they were going above and beyond their duties, in a math faux pas, the answer given to Lena ended up being incorrect, as pointed out by a friend of Lena’s mother. (The correct answer is to add the numbers in the second parenthesis and multiply only that by two, and then add it to the numbers in the first parenthesis.)

Lena’s mom, Molly Draper, said she was tickled that the local police department tried to help her daughter with her homework. “I didn’t believe her and asked for a screenshot. I thought it was pretty funny. And I love that they went ahead with it,” she told ABC News.

In response to the incident, the Marion Police Department posted on its Facebook page that it is a full-service police department that makes every emergency a cause to be answered.

When asked if Lena’s math problem ever got answered correctly, her mom said, “I hope so. But we’ll see when she gets her paper back.”

For those in need of math equation help, remember the acronym, PEMDAS, which stands for parentheses, exponents, multiplication, division, addition and subtraction — the order in which mathematical operations should be performed in an equation.

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Two officers shot, one killed, after responding to traffic accident in California

KABC-TV(WHITTIER, Calif.) — One police officer was killed and another injured after they were shot while responding to a traffic accident earlier Monday in California.

The officers had responded to the crash where a driver, who police said was driving a stolen car, rear-ended multiple other vehicles in Whittier, California around 8 a.m.

Lt. John Corina, of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office, said that the unnamed suspect moved his car around the corner after the accident. When officers arrived on scene, the other drivers indicated that the suspect had moved his car.

“When they got the call, it was just a traffic accident and they didn’t know what they had,” Corina told reporters. “When they went to contact him that’s when the shooting happened.”

Corina said that suspect, a “known gang member,” was armed with a semi-automatic handgun and opened fire first on the officers, striking them. The officers then returned fire, wounding the suspect, officials said.

Both officers and the suspect were hospitalized after the shooting and one officer died at the hospital. The surviving officer and suspect are currently in stable condition, according to Corina.

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Bao Bao the panda to leave DC Tuesday

Xinhua/Yin Bogu via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Thousands of well-wishers are heading to the Smithsonian National Zoo and tuning in online to say “Bye-bye, Bao Bao.” The beloved giant panda departs Washington, D.C., Tuesday for her new home in China.

“Everyone here at the zoo, the millions of people at the zoo and the millions more on the webcams around the world are all going to miss her tremendously,” Associate Director of Animal Care Sciences Brandie Smith told ABC News.

In the days before her departure, the zoo has hosted a number of activities and educational livestreams, including a dumpling ceremony and an ice cake party.

🐼❤️🌏Bao Bao’s last ice 🎂 created by our Dept. of Nutrition Sciences was inspired by a Chinese pagoda in honor of her new home #ByeByeBaoBao pic.twitter.com/7V1Ua0gei9

— National Zoo (@NationalZoo) February 20, 2017

Crowds of visitors lined up at the panda house, some waiting upwards of an hour, to wish the bear bon voyage.

“I have been watching this bear since she was born and it’s actually the first adult animal I have seen from birth until adulthood,” visitor Heather Heckel told ABC News. “So I’ve just kind of loved her all of her life and I wanted to say goodbye.”

Bao Bao was born at the National Zoo Aug. 23, 2013, to China-born parents Mei Xiang and Tian Tian. Now older than 3, Bao Bao has to be sent to China as part of a cooperative breeding program between the zoo and the China Wildlife Conservation Association (CWCA). As defined by terms of the program, all giant pandas born at the zoo must be sent to live in China before the age of 4.

“We like to send them back about this age because in a couple of years she’ll actually reach breeding age,” one of Bao Bao’s keepers, Marty Dearie, told ABC News. “It’s good to get them back a little early so they have time to settle into their new environment.”

Bao Bao begins her long trek to Chengdu, China, Tuesday morning, when she will travel from the zoo to Dulles International Airport in Virginia. From there, she will take a 19-hour direct flight on a personalized FedEx plane, accompanied by Dearie, a vet, and close to 60 pounds of bamboo and other treats.

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Rainy start to the year in Northern California continues

ABC News(NEW YORK) — Following years of drought, parts of Northern California have experienced a deluge of rain so far in 2017.

Rain, heavy at times, is expected throughout Monday in the region, before tapering to scattered showers overnight, according to ABC News meteorologists.

Around the area of the Oroville Dam, where residents were forced to evacuate last week following concerns that the structure could falter, 1 to 2 inches of rain were expected, and the area surrounding nearby mountains could get as much as 5 inches or more, meteorologists said.

Following the rain, wind gusts Monday evening and overnight could create downed trees, power lines, and power outages in some areas.

This has been the wettest start to the year ever recorded in the Sacramento area — which has now exceeded a foot above normal for rainfall since Oct. 1, 2016, according to ABC News’ analysis.

Some residents of the region are preparing for the possibility of another evacuation of the region surrounding Oroville, according to the Sacramento Bee, but the water has nevertheless been lowered to a safe level.

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Deadline approaching for Dakota Access Pipeline protest camp

ABCNews.com(Cannon Ball, N.D.) — Dakota Access Pipeline protestors that are still camped out in North Dakota could be arrested Wednesday if they do not leave.

Protesters have been at the campsite since August as they fight the construction of a pipeline that will carry oil from North Dakota through South Dakota and Iowa to Illinois. They feel the pipeline threatens the sanctity of the land, and Native American tribes argue the pipeline threatens drinking water and cultural sites.

Weather serves as another threat to protests. Protesters may have to move to higher ground amid the possibility of spring flooding.

Some protesters tell Bloomberg News they are prepared to be arrested, but will remain peaceful.

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Study: Los Angeles is world’s most traffic-clogged city

iStock/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES) — Low fuel prices and economic stability are straining the country’s roadways, leading to congestion that cost U.S. drivers nearly $300 billion in wasted gas and time last year, according to a new report released Monday.

Los Angeles had the worst traffic in the world among 1,064 cities studied by traffic analytics firm INRIX. L.A. also topped the Kirkland, Washington, firm’s list the year before.

On average, Los Angeles motorists spent about 104 hours stuck in traffic during the peak commuting hours of 2016, contributing to a loss of $2,408 per driver, or about $9.7 billion collectively, in wasted fuel and productivity, according to the firm’s Global Traffic Scorecard report.

That topped Moscow and New York, where drivers spent an average of 91 hours and 89 hours, respectively, sitting in gridlocked traffic.

Overall, U.S. cities accounted for half of the firm’s list of the top 10 most-congested areas worldwide, helped by cheaper U.S. gas prices and a buoyant economy, the report said.

“A stable U.S. economy, continued urbanization of major cities, and factors such as employment growth and low gas prices have all contributed to increased traffic in 2016,” INRIX senior economist Bob Pishue said in a statement.

U.S. drivers spent an average of 42 hours a year in traffic during the busiest commuting hours of the year, costing them about $300 billion collectively, or about $1,400 per driver, in squandered gas and time last year, according to the report.

“Traffic truly is a double-edged sword,” Pishue said, adding that he doesn’t expect the global traffic situation to improve soon any time soon.

“The demand for driving is expected to continue to rise, while the supply of roadway will remain flat,” Pishue said.

He recommends that governments use traffic data and technology to improve traffic flow as they explore new road projects and investments.

Separately, in a blog post Friday, INRIX Chief Economist Graham Cookson noted that the causes of congestion are specific to the city and road structures, but he also laid out a few ways that cities could address the problem.

“Congestion is bad for our wallets and our health, but in one sense it is a good problem to have,” Cookson said. “Roads are the arteries of the economy pumping people and goods around the country. Congestion is the symptom of a rich and prosperous economy.”

Avoiding peak hour trips through remote working and encouraging the efficient use of our roads through wider adoption of road user pricing could help cities to better manage road demand, Cookson said.

He pointed to places like London as an example of a city that is using technology to improve traffic flow.

London invested nearly $4.3 billion to improve the roads there, according to the city’s website.

As part of that initiative, the city placed sensors in 80 percent of the city’s roads to detect real-time traffic conditions at junctions and optimize traffic light timings to reduce delays, Cookson noted in his blog post.

INRIX said it used anonymous and real-time GPS data to track traffic flows across 38 countries. It also utilized “market-specific criteria that affect traffic,” including construction and road closures, real-time incidents, sporting and entertainment events, weather forecasts and school schedules.

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‘Everyone is calling from everywhere’ to help in Indiana teens’ murder probe

Indiana State Police(DELPHI, Ind.) — A tip line set up by investigators in the murder of two Indiana teens who disappeared while hiking is filling up with calls from across the country after a man photographed on a nature trail was named a primary suspect in the killings, police said.

“Everyone is calling us from everywhere,” a spokesperson for the Delphi Police told ABC News.

The bodies of the two girls — Liberty Rose Lynn German, 14, and Abigail Jay Williams, 13, both of Carroll County — were found last Tuesday near a creek, roughly three-quarters of a mile from an abandoned railroad bridge, near Delphi, Indiana, where they were dropped off Monday to go hiking.

Indiana State Police named a man in a photograph as the primary suspect in the double homicide investigation Sunday afternoon, but nothing is known about him at this time outside of a single image.

Previously, he had been labeled a person of interest, and police said he might only be a witness to the crime.

That changed Sunday afternoon.

“Since Wednesday February 15th, law enforcement officers have distributed a photo of a person observed on the Delphi Historic Trail. The photo appears to depict a white male wearing blue jeans, a blue coat/jacket, and a hoodie,” a statement from the Indiana State Police read.

Investigators told ABC News that a search warrant was executed at a home in Delphi on Thursday night, but it did not yield anything of value to the investigation.

State police referred to “preliminary evidence” that led their attention to the man in the picture, without detailing what it was.

“During the course of the investigation, preliminary evidence has led investigators to believe the person, in the distributed photo, is suspected of having participated in the murders of Abigail Williams and Liberty German,” the statement added.

The case has garnered great attention in the otherwise peaceful area of rural Indiana from which the girls disappeared.

On Monday, police told ABC News that people in the small city of Delphi bonded together following the tragedy and have been extremely helpful to the investigation.

“The people of Delphi are being very helpful,” the spokesman said. “They are helping in any way that they can.”

Thousands gathered in Delphi this weekend to take part in a motorcycle memorial ride to commemorate the lives of the two girls.

Organizers for the motorcycle rally estimated that more than 3,000 people took part in the ride on Saturday, while hundreds of spectators watched, according to the Lafayette Journal and Courier, a local paper.

The paper said that the downtown area of the small city overflowed with motorcycles and cars, who registered for $20 per driver and $5 per passenger to ride from Office Tavern Bar in Delphi to Whiskey and Wine Saloon in Monticello, and that the funds were split between the families of the two victims.

ABC affiliate WRTV in Indianapolis reported that residents of Delphi were applying purple ribbons to their homes and storefronts show their support for the victims and their families.

The affiliate also reported that several local businesses in Delphi are hosting fundraisers for the families.

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