Some congressional members call for border death investigation
SAN DIEGO (CNS) – Sixteen members of Congress Thursday called for a
complete investigation into the death two years ago of 42-year-old U.S. citizen
who died after Border Patrol agents caught him trying to re-enter the United
States at the San Ysidro Port of Entry.
The congressional members, including Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, D-Los
Angeles, said the troubling findings on a recent PBS documentary, “Crossing
the Line at the Border,” reiterated the need for tougher oversight of Border
Patrol personnel to end the abuse of people in the agency's custody.
The family of Anastacio Hernandez-Rojas filed a civil lawsuit against
the federal government last year alleging that excessive force led to the death
of the father of five in June 2010.
Hernandez-Rojas, a construction worker who had lived in the United
States for more than two decades, had been deported and was caught trying to
return to California.
According to the lawsuit, 20 to 25 Border Patrol agents took part in his
beating and that he was on the ground when he was tased.
The Border Patrol said Hernandez-Rojas' behavior necessitated the use of
a baton and stun gun. The agency said the victim “became combative” and the
baton and stun gun were used to subdue him and maintain officer safety.
In the PBS documentary, the victim's cries for help can be heard as
agents surround him.
“The disturbing footage and eyewitness accounts that aired on PBS raise
serious questions about the Border Patrol's role in the death of Anastacio
Hernandez-Rojas and after two years, we owe it to his family to finally provide
some definitive answers,” Roybal said. “In light of this new evidence, I call
on the Justice Department to complete its protracted investigation and take
An autopsy report from the San Diego County Medical Examiner found the
victim's death to be a homicide. He had a heart attack and it was not clear
how much a stun gun, heart condition and/or his methamphetamine use were to
blame in his death, according to officials at the Medical Examiner's Office.