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Family: Grand Jury Investigating Death Of Immigrant

An attorney for the family of a man who died after an encounter with San Diego border agents said a federal grand jury has been called to investigate the incident.

The family of 42-year-old Mexican immigrant Anastasio Hernández Rojas has been calling for a federal investigation since Rojas's death two years ago.

Aired 7/12/12 on KPBS News.

An attorney for the family of a man who died after an encounter with San Diego border agents said a federal grand jury has been called to investigate the incident.

Family and activisits held a press conference Thursday announcing a grand jury has been called to investigate the death of Anastasio Hernández Rojas in 2010.
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Above: Family and activisits held a press conference Thursday announcing a grand jury has been called to investigate the death of Anastasio Hernández Rojas in 2010.

He died in May of 2010 after he was tazed multiple times by border agents who were deporting him. The agents said they used a stun gun because Rojas was combative.

Recently, a witness's video emerged that appears to show Rojas lying motionless on the ground as he's being stunned. Humberto Navarrete, who shot the video, told the Associated Press he was called to testify at the grand jury.

The U.S. Justice Department has not confirmed that a grand jury is investigating. But at a press conference this morning, Rojas' family and activists said it's a step in the right direction.

"The fact that they've called a grand jury is in itself a message to Border Patrol that they are not above the law. An indictment would be an emphatic statement that they are not above the law, and of course, a conviction would be a resounding a warning," said Andrea Guerrero, executive director for Equality Alliance, a non-profit, social-justice advocacy group.

Guerrero will be heading a delegation to Washington, D.C. next week with the co-chair of the Southern Borders Community Coalition.

Rojas's widow, Maria Puga, said -- in Spanish -- that she looks forward to justice being served.

"These two years have been very difficult for my family, for my children because they ask me questions," she said. "I think they have a right to know. I hope the case is resolved and there is justice so I can give my children answers and tell them where these people are who did this to their daddy."

Two months ago, family and supporters went to the Justice Department in Washington, D.C. Rojas's brother, Bernardo Hernández, said they received signatures of support from 16 Congressmen who also were demanding justice.

"We are going to keep with this case until there is a final outcome and justice," he said in Spanish. "We hope to go back to Washington to keep with this struggle."

Comments

Avatar for user 'HarryStreet'

HarryStreet | July 13, 2012 at 7:20 a.m. ― 2 years, 2 months ago

The video is evidence that questions the Border Patrol agents' story. Their action(s) are deplorable. I believe part of the story was Anastasio Hernandez Rojas was deported because he was living in the US illegally. I heard he continued to disregard our immigration law and tried to return to the US illegally.

Could this whole event have been avoided had he (Rojas) applied to live and work in the US legally?

Rojas' death is another example how we can't continue to allow things to be the way they are simply because people don't know better or fear change. Sadly, this will probably happen again so long as we do nothing.

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Avatar for user 'urbanpioneer'

urbanpioneer | July 13, 2012 at 9:29 a.m. ― 2 years, 2 months ago

Harry, I don't know how familiar you are with immigration law. Getting a visa to live and work in the U.S. is very difficult. You have to either be a close relative of a U.S. citizen or resident or have some special talent/work experience that is needed in the U.S. Then there is the quota to contend with. Some Spouses or children of legal permanent residents have to wait a decade or longer to receive a visa.

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