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Border & Immigration

Judge To Consider $1 Million Settlement In US Border Killing

Anastasio Hernandez Rojas stands with two of his children at a Coronado beach in this undated photograph.
Nicholas McVicker
Anastasio Hernandez Rojas stands with two of his children at a Coronado beach in this undated photograph.

A federal judge will consider an agreement for the U.S. government to pay $1 million to the children of a Mexican man who died after being detained by immigration authorities and shot several times with a stun gun.

If approved at a hearing Thursday in San Diego, the settlement would end a nearly 7-year-old case that prompted widespread complaints that U.S. immigration authorities tolerated agents who use excessive force. Prosecutors declined to file criminal charges.

Terms of the settlement disclosed in a court filing last week would split the money among Anastasio Hernandez's five children, with about a quarter going for attorney fees and costs.


RELATED: Grand Jury Probes Anastasio Hernandez Border Death

The 42-year-old unarmed man died after a confrontation with authorities in May 2010 at San Diego's San Ysidro border crossing with Tijuana, Mexico. Authorities have said he was combative while being returned to Mexico.

The death attracted intense scrutiny in 2012 after an eyewitness video that aired on PBS appeared to show Hernandez being shot while lying on the ground, surrounded by about a dozen agents. Sixteen members of Congress wrote then-Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to say Hernandez's death "may be emblematic of broader structural problems."

In 2015, the U.S. Justice Department said it accepted the authorities' contention that the force they used was reasonable and necessary to restrain Hernandez Rojas when he was "noncompliant and physically assaultive." The Mexican government strongly condemned the decision.

RELATED: Five Years Later, Family Still Demanding Justice In Taser Death At The Border


Hernandez moved to San Diego from the central Mexican state of San Luis Potosi when he was a teenager and found work in construction. He and his partner, Maria Puga, had five U.S.-born children.

The altercation began as Hernandez had been arrested by the Border Patrol with his brother in the mountains east of San Diego, allegedly after entering the country illegally.

An autopsy found he died of a heart attack, with a heart condition and methamphetamine use listed as contributing factors. The autopsy said Hernandez was unresponsive shortly after he was shot with a stun gun, apparently three or four times.