Journalist Speaks About Video Raising Questions In Man's Death
Anastasio Hernandez Rojas Died After May 2010 Altercation With US Border Agents
2:27 AM, Apr 21, 2012
10News spoke with an investigative journalist on Friday about the video that shows what might be considered excessive force used by U.S. border agents in an altercation that led to a 42-year-old Mexican man's death.
On May 28, 2010, Anastacio Hernandez Rojas was being escorted to Mexico after entering the U.S. illegally when authorities said he became combative with agents and ignored their orders.Border agents used a stun gun to subdue him, and an injured Rojas was taken to a Chula Vista hospital where he later died.The San Diego County Medical Examiner ruled Rojas' death a homicide and noted the cause as a heart attack. The medical examiner's report also indicated Rojas had methamphetamine in his system at the time of the incident.New footage obtained by PBS shows Rojas on the ground being stunned with a stun gun by an agent as multiple agents surrounded him. In separate footage, Rojas' loud cries for help are heard.When asked for comment, Jacqueline Wasiluk of U.S. Customs and Border Protection told 10News:
"This case is still under investigation by the Department of Justice ... so we have no comment from Customs and Border Protection."
Attorney Eugene Iredale, who represents Rojas' wife in a civil case against the government, told 10News, "The video is enough to tell us that when the government agents say, 'Oh, we had to use the Taser on him four times and then come up and use it a fifth time because he was kicking and screaming, resisting, belligerent, aggressive, fighting,' that thats not true."The PBS special entitled "First look: Crossing the line", which includes some of the Rojas footage, was screened locally in front of more than 100 people, including Rojas' widow. On Friday, PBS aired the entire episode. "It's an untold story," said PBS correspondent John Larson. Larson produced and reported the half-hour investigative story. He told 10News on Friday the only thing missing was the Border Patrol's side of the story. "In the case of homeland security it's not red tape, it's a stonewall," said Larson. Larson said unlike local law enforcement, when lethal force is used by border agents, there is very little, if any, disclosure. "Because the U.S. Border Patrol is part of Homeland Security, there's no public investigation," he said. "There's no public disclosure. There's no trial." Rojas' widow spoke with 10News after the screening. She said the new video does not bring closure to her or their five children. "My kids ask every day, 'Why did they kill Daddy? Why did they kill my daddy?'" said Maria Hernandez Rojas. "I want answers to that question. I want justice served."The U.S. Department of Justice is still investigating the case. Neither Larson nor 10News has been able to get a comment about where the investigation stands. Rojas, a construction worker, lived in the Encanto area for about 20 years.