In April of this year we ran a tragic story of the murder of a Mexican national in the US by US Border Patrol Agents. That man was named Anastacio Hernandez-Rojas. Our original story can be found at:
We also ran a followup story on this case in May which is located at:
In our continuing effort to follow this story it appears that there have now been some significant developments in the case. Criminal charges could now be filed against US Border Patrol agents involved in this case we’ve learned. It is being reported today that a Federal Grand Jury has been formed to investigate the death of Rojas in 2010. Rojas died of a heart attack after being shot with a taser gun by US Border agents at the San Ysidro border crossing near San Diego. The grand jury will be looking at video taken from numerous cell phones by people on the catwalk the night Rojas was brutally tortured by USBP. That video show Rojas on the ground apparently NOT resisting the officers but being tasered anyway and surrounded by at least a dozen USBP agents. Show of force? No it was more like a SHARK FRENZY imo!
The San Diego Medical Examiner has issued a report that states that Rojas was “acting agitated and confrontational” the evening of the incident but witnesses do not agree and neither do supporters of Rojas. They say he was tortured and abused by USBP right in front of everyone! Finally, two years after his death a federal grand jury is going to look into the incident to determine if charges should be brought against the USBP agents involved that evening in the incident. That investigation could lead to criminal charges and Rojas and his family might just get some justice. Better late than never I suppose!
Andrea Guerrero who is the Executive Director of Equality Alliance of San Diego County says there is overwhelming evidence or wrong doing by US agents and she believes the video evidence alone will lead to an indictment in this case. Of course the grand jury could go the other way and say there is not enough evidence to bring charges against agents and close the case forever.
Back in June of 2010 when Rojas died the San Diego Medical Examiner’s Office ruled his death as a homicide. That decision was made five days after Rojas was shot repeatedly with the taser bun. In addition, the medical examiner said that hypertension and methamphetamine abuse contributed to Rojas’ death from cardiac arrest while in the Chula Vista Hospital.
The incident was investigated by the San Diego Police. Back in June of 2010 SDPD Captain Jim Collins said USBP agents had arrested some men on Otay Mountain and Rojas was among them. They were brought to the San Ysidro station for processing. Rojas, police claimed, signed papers agreeing to return to Mexico and when agents took him to the gate and removed his handcuffs Rojas became violent. That was around 9:15 pm. Collins said Rojas began fighting with agents and assistance was brought into the area. One border agent fired a taser gun at Rojas, according to Collins. At some point Rojas stopped breathing and agents administered CPR and called paramedics. According to Rojas’ family he’d been living in the San Diego area illegally for the past 20 years. The incident has been deplored by the Mexican Foreign Ministry publicly. Keep in mind this police investigation was conducted back in June of 2010 and at that time Capt. Collins said results of the police investigation would be forwarded to federal prosecutors who would determine if criminal charges should be brought against border agents involved. That was a full TWO YEARS ago! Now today we finally learn the matter is before a federal grand jury and it’s about time!! Also keep in mind that the medical examiner has ALREADY ruled Rojas’ death as a HOMICIDE.
The grand jury investigation is the result of an investigation into the Rojas case by The Investigative Fund and PBS. Back in April of 2012 PBS ran a report on the Rojas case on their PBS Show “Need to Know.” That sparked outrage across the US and Mexico and resulted in demonstration demanding justice for Rojas. Video aired by PBS showed Rojas lying on the ground still in handcuffs surrounded by more than a dozen USBP agents. That video also shows Rojas being kicked, punched, and tasered by USBP agents which contradicts the findings of the SDPD investigation as stated by Captain Collins! The beating, punching, and tasering went on for almost an astounding 30 MINUTES! If that is not cruel and unncessary punishment then what is?
The PBS video show the agent tasering Rojas and shouting “Quit resisting” but Rojas does NOT appear to be resisting at all. In fact he’s on the ground in handcuffs! In one video showed by PBS from a cell phone Rojas can been heard begging officers for help. Rojas died three days after the incident and the Coroner’s investigation determined it was a HOMICIDE. After the SDPD investigation results were simply handed over to federal prosecutors and no charges were filed against USBP agents involved. CNN, MSNBC, and other media outlets picked up the story and 16 members of Congress sent a letter to US Attorney General Eric Holder calling for a new investigation into the incident.
The US Justice Dept has sat on this case for TWO YEARS no for some UNKNOWN reason! But public exposure has had an effect on the DOJ and now a federal grand jury has been convened. As I said BETTER LATE THAN NEVER HOLDER!!
The fact that Rojas lived in the US for 20 years working as a construction worker is another point and not the focus here. The point here is MURDER of a HUMAN BEING. Whether Rojas was here legally or illegally is a side issue in this matter. The fact is he was tortured, beaten, kicked, and tasered repeatedly while down on the ground and handcuffed by USBP agents. NO human being should have to go through such treatment at the hand of US law enforcement. Their use of force was unnecessary and very excessive! What one sees in the video aired by PBS is NOT the use of “reasonable force” to restrain Rojas. What one actually sees is excessive use of force and human torture! Hopefully the grand jury will file murder charges in this case and the family will have some justice. We cannot and must not allow rogue cops who think they are Gestapo Agents to continue this. Such officers should NOT be officers at all as they obviously do not have the self control necessary to be professional police. Police work is not for the psychotic! It’s not about torturing people and killing bad guys. It’s about making sure JUSTICE is served EQUALLY!
SDNP will continue to stay on top of this story as more developments happen.