San Diego Petition Calls For Body-Worn Cameras For Border Patrol
Backers of a San Diego-based petition are asking President Barack Obama to require body-worn cameras for border patrol officers and to discipline those involved in the killing of a Mexican immigrant at the San Ysidro Port of Entry.
The petition had gathered about 1,000 signatures as of Wednesday afternoon. Immigrant rights groups launched the petition after suffering major setbacks this month.
On Friday, U.S. Customs and Border Protection staff said in an internal report that body-worn cameras are not feasible for the agency. That same day, federal prosecutors said they lacked evidence to punish agents involved in the death of Anastasio Hernández Rojas.
Bystanders recorded the 2010 incident leading to Hernández's death. The grainy camera videos went viral and show Hernández lying on the ground and crying for help, surrounded by border patrol officers who repeatedly shoot him with a Taser.
His widow, Maria Puga, recorded a YouTube video asking for help with the petition.
“I believe that if the agents had been equipped with body-worn cameras, we would have enough evidence, or perhaps this would never have happened. My husband would still be alive,” she said.
Activists are asking Customs and Border Protection to conduct an administrative investigation into the incident. The standard of proof in such a case would not be as high as in the criminal case dismissed this month, said Andrea Guerrero, executive director for the immigrant rights group Alliance San Diego.
If the agency decides to investigate, the officers involved in Hernández’s death could lose their jobs. The petition puts pressure on the agency to investigate.
“We want to make sure that the White House understands that this is not one family’s concern – this is a whole community’s concern about abuse and impunity,” Guerrero said.
She said activists are also putting together a case for the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.
“You’re putting the U.S. government on trial for exercising impunity, so it’s a broader scope,” she said.
Guerrero said victory in an international case could lead to U.S. policy changes, including a mandate for body-worn cameras throughout CBP.
Hernández's widow, Puga, said she was disappointed with the developments in her husband's case this month but said she felt newly motivated after a recent rally in San Diego, where hundreds of activists marched in her support.
“The spirit of the people in the community who tell me not to give up, that gives me so much strength to move forward, to keep fighting,” she said.