The family of a teenager killed after drinking an amber-colored liquid -- which turned out to be liquid methamphetamine - in front of federal agents at the U.S.-Mexico Border will receive $1 million in a settlement, according to court documents.
The family had argued the teen was "coerced and intimidated" into drinking the liquid then was taken into custody instead of being given medical attention. A medical examiner had ruled his death an accident.
The settlement comes three years after the death of Cruz Marcelino Velazquez Acevedo, 16, of Tijuana.
On Nov. 18, 2013, Acevedo was stopped by agents after he entered the U.S. from Mexico on foot at the San Ysidro Port of Entry.
At the primary checkpoints, agents asked the teen about two containers he was carrying.
When an agent asked what was in the bottles, Acevedo called the liquid a juice, according to the lawsuit filed by his family.
"The agent took a capful and poured it on the counter, because he thought if it was liquid methamphetamine it would instantly evaporate and leave behind crystals," according to the lawsuit.
When it did not immediately evaporate, agents sent Acevedo to a secondary inspection point. The agent was later told by his supervisor that this was not a proper, safe test for detecting meth in liquid, according to the suit filed by the family.
At secondary inspection, the teenager was questioned again, according to the lawsuit. Acevedo once again explained the bottles contained juice, but agents believed they contained controlled substances.
The family claims in the lawsuit that agents "coerced and intimidated Cruz into taking a big sip from one of the bottles." A previous Medical Examiner report said Acevedo voluntarily took a sip.
A K-9 then came into the room and alerted agents that Acevedo had controlled substances, according to the lawsuit.
Agents then handcuffed Acevedo and took him into custody.
"Despite the fact that they knew Acevedo had ingested drugs, agents did not take Cruz for medical attention," the lawsuit states.
Shortly after, Acevedo began sweating, and then "screaming in pain and clenching his fists," according to the suit.
In the lawsuit, the family alleges that Acevedo began yelling "the chemicals" in Spanish and then, "Mi corazon! Mi corazon!", or "My heart! My heart!" He began to seize uncontrollably, according to the suit.
Agents called paramedics, who had to sedate the teen before transporting him to Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center.
Agents said they ran tests on the liquid that tested positive for liquid methamphetamine.
In a settlement with the agency, the family received $1 million.
U. S. Customs and Border Patrol authorities released the following statement in response to the settlement:
“Although, we are not able to speak about this specific case, training and the evaluation of CBP policies and procedures are consistently reviewed as needed.”