Before I begin this report let me be clear. I understand what US Border Patrol agents are up against every day. I understand the dangers involved as they carry out their jobs encountering drug traffickers and human smugglers. The dangers are very real and, as in the case of US Border Agent Brian Terry, sometimes very deadly. It is certainly not a job I would want and I respect these agents for the work they do in trying to prevent human smuggling and drug trafficking. For the most part the majority of US Border Patrol agents are good men and women doing their difficult job with professionalism. However, there are a few bad apples as there are in any organization, law enforcement or not. In the case of such bad apples they are the agents who need to be identified and weeded out of the agency. Sadly, this has not been the case when it comes to the public murder of Mexican national Anastacio Hernandez-Rojas.
Rojas was killed in May of 2010 at the US border entry in San Diego by US Border Patrol agents. The weapon of choice was a taser. Rojas was tasered five times by an agent. Rojas began convulsing from the taser strikes and stopped breathing. One agent clearly had his leg on Rojas’ throat near the end of the incident. Officers at the time claimed Rojas was on methamphetamines but a corners report identified the amount as small. Officers also claimed that Rojas was resisting but video shot of the entire incident on that night suggests Rojas was not resisting at all. Agents first claimed Rojas was not in handcuffs but later admitted he was handcuffed during the tasering. The San Diego County Corner ruled the death a homicide but none of the agents were charged with murder. The entire affair took place at the border entry where agents have driven Rojas in order to deport him back to Mexico. The tasering was witnessed by numerous people who filmed the incident on their cell phones and some of those people who saw the incident told agents to stop tasering him because he was not resisting. Agents did not stop tasering Rojas and agents demanded witnesses on the catwalk keep walking. At least one couple had their cell phone confiscated by agents because they had filmed the incident and others were told by agents to erase what they had filmed which is clearly illegal.
A new witness has come forward from Seattle, Washington who was on the catwalk that night and she filmed the entire incident. She says she feared for her own life and that’s why she has not come forward until now. She says the guilt got to her because she feels like she “witnessed a murder” that night on the US-Mexico border in San Diego. PBS has obtained that video and it is included in a new report in their series “Need to Know.” You can watch the report at the PBS link below.
In the past two years eight people have been killed on the border excluding drug and human smugglers. All of these incidents involved US Border Patrol agents and the possibility that they used excessive force in carrying out their duties. The US Department of Justice has done little about these instances and the killing of Rojas raises questions about US Border Patrol accountability. The USBP is part of the US Department of Homeland Security and as such they are NOT subject to the same public scrutiny as are regular police officers in the US who use their weapons to kill a suspect. The biggest question of all concerning the eight cases over the past two years including the Rojas case is why are these cases not being prosecuted by the DOJ?
In the Rojas case it was investigated by the San Diego Police Department and the corner ruled his death a “homicide.” However, none of the dozen or so agents at the scene that night have been arrested and charged with murder. At the time of the killing in May 2010 the incident was only briefly reported by the US media. In Mexico the killing became a big story and people were outraged over it. Since that time it’s all been going away, however. That is until now. Now that a new video recording has been brought forward by the witness from Seattle and this video is causing outrage to grow on both sides of the border once again. Continue Reading