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Initial OK Given To $1M Settlement In Border Death Case

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.
Initial OK Given To $1M Settlement In Border Death Case
Initial OK Given To $1M Settlement In Border Death Case GUEST:Jean Guerrero, Fronteras reporter, KPBS News

Our top story a judge has given one of the final okays to $1 million settlement in the case of a man. The Mexican national was beaten and tased by border patrol agents at the border crossing seven years ago. The event was caught on the cell phone camera of a bystander. The government has never admitted that the leading cause of death of him or filed criminal charges against the border patrol officers. The agreed to settle the lawsuit by the family for $1 million. Joining me is Jean Guerrero. The cell phone video and the recording of what happened to him by border patrol agents became international news. Remind us what they showed and what we heard. The videos are pretty dark but you can see about a dozen border patrol officers and some officials were there as well surrounding him who was on the ground. He is crying out for help and they are shooting him with the Taser repeatedly and kicking him. You can see when the officers It looks like he is polling his pants down. There's a lot of aggression happening in his on the ground fighting for help. You can hear bystanders yelling at the border patrol officers to stop as they are taping all of this happening. Why were agency detaining him in the first place? He had been deported and he was trying to cross the border illegally and so officer stopped him. Prior to that he had been living in United States for 20 years and that's why he had five children here and his wife. He had been deported and he was trying to make its way back illegally and that's why it happened. He was in custody what the order protection and they were trying to fast-track the deportation. They did not comment on the settlement but what have they set about this case? How do they justify the treatment of him question They said the use of force was deemed necessary for the safety of the officers because he was being combative. The videos that been released we have no evidence of that being the case. The medical examiner did roll that the death was a homicide. They found broken ribs, broken teeth, internal bleeding and noted that there was methamphetamine in his blood. You were at the news conference how did he -- his widow react. She made it clear that this money is going to her five children to help pay for their education for college. She really emphasize that for her the settlement is injustice because the agents who were involved in the killing are still working and they have lost their jobs. There has been no punishment for the agents. She said also her husband's life doesn't have a price and she's been engaging in these legal battles and she just want to make sure that this thing does not ever happen again to anyone else. She said I don't want -- So even though this is not justice as far as she's concerned the attorney at the news conference pointed out that the lawsuit itself forced the border patrol to release a lot of information. That is correct. The case prompted an independent review of the border patrols so that was published with some new recommendations about how the agents can avoid unnecessary use of force. And then after that in December establish a use of force review board. They also said this is more relative now than ever. Tell us about what they said about that. There was announcement from the administration that border patrol will be beefed up and they will see 10,000 more employees and to some of the immigrant activists and the attorney who was there and also the widow were saying that they are worried that there's already a problem of oversight of agents doing whatever they want and not seeing repercussions. They say that border patrol has been militarized over the next years and the new administration is promoting it with the new decision and we might see further problems. The coalition has documented about 50 other immigrant gents with border patrol agent since 2010 and they say that all of those were unjustified including a teenager who was shot while throwing rocks. The legal battle over the death of Anastasio Hernandez Rojas is not over. No, the widow has emphasized that she's going to continue pursuing justice on multiple sites. She's filed a complaint with the American commission of human rights. It is a independent part of the organization of American states and she's basically alleging that the U.S. federal government engage in a cover-up hiding evidence, destroying evidence and so what the organization can do is they find that there was in fact some wrongdoing they would make recommendations to the United States for how to prevent further occurrence. I've been speaking with KPBS reporter. Thank you.

Initial OK Given To $1M Settlement In Border Death Case
Anastasio Hernandez Rojas died in 2010, after border agents shot him multiple times with a Taser.

A federal judge Thursday tentatively approved 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 Taser.

The decision at a hearing Thursday in San Diego is intended to end a nearly 7-year case that prompted widespread complaints that U.S. immigration authorities tolerated agents who use excessive force. Prosecutors declined to file criminal charges.

RELATED: Judge To Consider $1 Million Settlement In US Border Killing

Anastasio Hernandez Rojas' five children will split the money if the deal receives final approval, with about a quarter going to attorney fees and costs.

The 42-year-old unarmed man died after a confrontation with authorities in May 2010 at the San Ysidro Port of Entry. Authorities have said he was combative while being returned to Mexico.

RELATED: Grand Jury Probes Anastasio Hernandez Border Death

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

At a news conference after Thursday's hearing, Hernandez's widow Maria Puga said through a translator, "I still have a lot of anger. With the settlement, the government is accepting the culpability of the agents. We've always known that they are guilty, that they are the murderers of my husband."

The settlement does not close the case. The family has filed a claim with an international tribunal, accusing U.S. authorities of failing to properly investigate and prosecute the case.