Thursday, September 2, 2010

Mexican Military Kills US Citizen Joseph Proctor Under Questionable Circumstances

by Erich Moncada, El Sendero del Peje

"Come to a complete stop, jerks."
On Sunday, August 19, Guerrero State Police found the cadaver of a United States citizen inside a vehicle at kilometer 14 of the Acapulco-Zijuatanejo federal highway, near the town of El Cerrito de Oro.

32-year-old Joseph Steven Proctor, originally from Georgia, was found dead with two shots in his arm and forearm.  Next to his body was a AR-15 [assault] rifle with 34 bullets and two spent .233 caliber casings.  Domingo Olea, an agent with the public prosecutor's office in Coyuca de Benítez, stated that according to military authorities, Proctor opened fire against a military vehicle that had signaled for him to stop as it was patrolling the zone.  The soldiers were forced to defend themselves and return fire, causing the vehicle to flip over.

William Proctor, Joseph's father, said that he had no knowledge of his son being involved in any illicit activities, nor that he owned a gun, and he was skeptical about the alleged attack on the soldiers.  He asserted that his son was a gardener when he lived in the United States and was in the process of divorcing his wife.  For the past six years he had resided in Mexico with his girlfriend, Liliana Gil Vargas and a son.  In an interview, Gil Vargas said that her boyfriend left at 10pm to make some purchases in an auto parts store.  She questioned the official version: "I heard that six soldiers shot him and they planted an AK-47 on him, when he never uses weapons.  We don't have weapons.  He could have never done such a thing."

Proctor's father had reservations about the official version of events: "I doubt it.  Joseph had a temper but he never used weapons... He always got mad when the police detained him looking for a bribe."

His mother said the same: "I heard about that.  I don't believe it... I need more information... I want to know what happened."

However, the incident could become yet another case of human rights violations committed by the military.  It is unsettling that the soldiers didn't report the confrontation, and that it was instead an anonymous call to 066 [Mexico's emergency telephone number] at 2am that reported the truck's location.

Even though Barack Obama's government has been silent on the issue, El Universal reported that the United States consulate was pressuring the military to have the soldiers testify before the public prosecutor.

According to the Associated Press, "an official with the Natonal Defense Ministry who requested to remain anonymous said... that the military is investigating the incident and that it appeared as though the US citizen's body was found in the front passenger seat, meaning that there could have been another person involved, even though no one else was found in the area."

CNN reveals more inconsistencies: "US officials have received contradictory reports regarding if 32-year-old Joseph Steven Proctor shot first at the Mexican soldiers... Proctor died, according to the US State Department, either because he tried to drive through a checkpoint [without stopping], causing the soldiers to shoot, or because he opened fire as he was passing by the checkpoint, causing the soldiers to shoot at him."

It is also difficult to believe that Proctor was able to drive the Windstar and fire the gun at the same time.

 Translated by Kristin Bricker


Anonymous said...

The AR-15 is the civilian version of the M-16 military rifle. Both are US made. The AK-47 is a communist bloc weapon. Both the AR-15 and the AK-47 are available to the US civilian market. However, the M-16 is reserved for military use; including the Mexican military. So did he have an AR-15, AK-47 or did the Mexican military plant one of THEIR M-16s on him?

Unknown said...

Thank you, trusty gun fact checker.

So here's the Mexican context behind the confusion over what gun was found in Proctor's car. There's a term in Spanish that's called the "cuerno de chivo." Roughly translated, it means "anything that looks roughly like an AK-47" and is also synonymous with "AK-47." I've seen AR-15s incorrectly referred to as AK-47s and cuernos de chivo, even in official government reports. That said, all news reports (including US ones, which tend to get their gun details right a little more often than their Mexican counterparts) say the weapon recovered from his vehicle was an AR-15. The girlfriend was just confused because of the lack of differentiation in Mexico between an AR-15 and an AK-47. That lack of differentiation also threw me for a loop. I've been told (by Mexicans) that the AR-15 was the gringos' response to the AK-47, since, like you say, the AK-47 was made by commies and thus a little taboo.

Apparently the Mexican military uses neither the AR-15 nor the M-16. It's the police that use the AR-15. I've seen AR-15s on federal police and some state police.

Either way, Mexico is swimming with AR-15s, which are definitely NOT legal for civilian use here. In Guerrero in particular, I'm sure a significant portion of that state's population either owns an AR-15 or knows exactly where to get one in a pinch.

Phew, someone needs to give me some gun flash cards for my birthday.

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