The family of an innocent man shot to death by Tamaulipas state police have put the mishap that killed him in the public eye with bumper stickers that declare the young man’s innocence.
“Accredited state police. Don’t shoot. I’m Daniel. Don’t kill me, I’m innocent,” read the stickers they handed out to the residents of Río Bravo after Juan Daniel Ortiz was killed on February 7.
The officers reportedly confused Juan Daniel, 23, with a suspect for whom they had been searching. He had gone out to buy beer for a family gathering when police opened fire on his truck near his parents’ home.
His parents, María Guadalupe and Diego Ortiz, said that their son was an exemplary young man. He had recently graduated from the Technological University of North Tamaulipas with a degree in engineering.
They appeared in a video posted to Twitter on February 9 in which they recounted the young man’s final moments, during which his father had called him and heard him pleading with police not to shoot him.
“I got there and said to them, ‘My son is innocent, my son is innocent.’ But they continued to shoot at him and I didn’t get any closer because they were going to shoot me too. My son didn’t have weapons, he didn’t have anything, he was alone,” his father said through tears.
He and his wife claimed that the police tried to plant a gun on Juan Daniel in order to justify having shot an unarmed man.
Juan Daniel’s friends and family hope that the bumper sticker campaign will help prevent other such tragic incidents with police in the area. In addition to the stickers, they also encouraged people to write personalized messages with shoe polish on their windows.
“Baby on board. Don’t shoot. We’re a family, not criminals,” read one such message.
Tamaulipas Governor Francisco Cabeza de Vaca told reporters that the case is being investigated and said that those responsible for the innocent man’s death will not go unpunished.
“If there were errors, if there was excessive force, the law will be applied. The state Attorney General’s Office is carrying out investigations and there will be no restrictions on them … Any errors committed by authorities will have consequences,” he said.
Juan Daniel’s was the third case of an extrajudicial killing by Tamaulipas state police in less than a year. The Nuevo Laredo Human Rights Committee called out state police in September of last year for two incidents of alleged mistaken identity that led to the deaths of nine people.