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Widow calling on District Attorney to investigate 2010 San Ysidro border death

Anastasio Hernandez Rojas
Posted at 4:01 PM, Nov 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-04 21:27:56-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — A San Diego Immigrant Rights Consortium held a news conference Thursday calling for a new investigation following the 2010 death of a man in federal agents custody at the San Ysidro Port of Entry.

Anastasio Hernandez Rojas, died after trying to re-enter the United States. Witnesses said they saw more than a dozen border patrol agents strike him with batons, shock with an electric stun gun while he was handcuffed on May 28, 2010. He also suffered a heart attack, broken ribs, loose teeth.

He died days later at a hospital.

In a 2015 report from the Department of Justice, it found that the action of the border patrol agents were not unlawful.

His family released a letter to the District Attorney's office on Thursday asking to re-investigate the case, and hold the border patrol agents involved accountable.

Anastasio's widow, Maria Puga, wrote a letter last week stating they were made aware of 'shadow teams' within Border Patrol who investigated their own colleagues involved in Hernandez-Rojas' case. Puga believes that those agents, interfered in San Diego Police's investigation and now wants those involved to be held accountable.

"Pues, agui seguimos," Puga shared in Spanish.

Puga said that 11 years later, she continues to fight for her husband and won't give up. Hernandez-Rojas' family filed a wrongful death lawsuit, however agents said Rojas resisted arrest and had methamphetamine in his system. The federal government later agreed on a million dollar settlement.

RELATED: Judge approves $1M settlement in 2010 border death

"What I really want people to know from this story is what really happens at the border," said Pugas' translator. "What happens in border communities, what happens in border patrol. There are countless people who get abused and get hurt by border patrol agents."

Thursday Puga stood alongside other community members and wanted the District Attorney to take corrective action and re-open her husbands case.

Geneviéve Jones-Wright, the Executive Director of Community Advocates for Just and Moral Governance, wanted the agents involved in his death to also be held accountable.

"We are here to ask, to urge, to plead with our District Attorney to do the right thing and uphold her obligation as District Attorney," said Jones-Wright. "To send a clear message that no one is above the law."

Southern Border Communities Coalition and Alliance San Diego sent a letter to Congress last week claiming that there is a covert unit in border patrol that hinders internal investigations.

"Over 100 people have been killed in the southern border yet not a single agent has been accountable for their actions," said Lilian Serrano, SBCC co-Chair and SDIRC member.

"Until this unit is dismantled we are going to keep hearing community members say, Why report it when nothing is ever done?'" shared SDIRC Chair, Dulce Garcia.

An official with CBP shared with ABC 10News that the U.S. Border Patrol had disbanded their critical incident team in San Diego several years ago. They went on to say that critical incident teams in other sectors focus on collecting evidence related to crimes that the U.S. Border Patrol regularly interdicts such as drug smuggling, documenting incidents where there is property damage such as vehicle accidents or other similar liability. The official furthered that these units can also be used to provide support to investigative agencies including CBP OPR, FBI, and other state and local agencies when reviewing critical incidents and use of force incidents involving CBP personnel.

The District Attorney's Office released this statement to ABC 10News:

"We have not received a case for review. The District Attorney's Office stands ready to pursue justice when the evidence supports it and where we have jurisdiction. We can't comment on the Department of Justice's review of this matter."