This article is from the archive of our partner .

Confusion still reigns over Friday's shooting of a U.S. embassy vehicle in Mexico, and while authorities figure out what happened, they're keeping the 12 Mexican federal police officers involved in custody. Whatever the final account turns out to be, the police involved come off looking pretty bad in The Associated Press' account, after they apparently shot and injured two U.S. embassy workers. They're charged with attempted murder, according to CNN, and abusing their authority, reports The AP's Michael Weissenstein. "That leaves open the possibility of both a deliberate attack on the Americans by corrupt officers and a gross error by well-intentioned but trigger-happy police operating in a dangerous area."

The accounts of how police came to fire more than a dozen bullets into the armored U.S. embassy vehicle with diplomatic plates are still vague. Two U.S. embassy employees and a Mexican Navy captain were traveling in the Toyota Landcruiser near Cuernavaca, south of Mexico City, when they came under attack by gunmen who included federal police. Weissenstein reports that "the Mexican government said federal police were conducting unspecified law-enforcement activities in the rural, mountainous area known for criminal activity when they came upon the car, which attempted to flee and came under fire from gunmen in four vehicles including federal police." As The New York Times' Randal C. Archibold notes, "Mexican newspapers have reported that all of the shots fired came from the police." CNN carried a bit more detail from an official Mexican Navy report: 

When a vehicle containing Federal Police approached and its occupants brandished their weapons, the driver of the diplomatic vehicle tried to evade them and return to the main highway. At that point, the police sprayed bullets into the black SUV with diplomatic plates.

Moments later, three other vehicles carrying Federal Police joined the attack, also shooting at the U.S. Embassy vehicle.

Mexican authorities still haven't said whether they think this was a mistake by police or a case of corrupt officers attacking a U.S. vehicle on purpose, but while they sort out what happened, the detention of the 12 officers has caused a scandal of its own: Protesters say the officers are being held unjustly for doing their jobs, and that their lawyers are being kept from them, Archibold reports. Authorities still haven't decided whether to prosecute the officers.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to