Southern Border Communities Coalition accuses Border Patrol of abuse and murder

Border Patrol: We don't comment on speculation

BARRIO LOGAN (KGTV) - The Southern Border Communities Coalition accused Border Patrol agents of abuse and committing murder. They announced Thursday they want to draw attention to the violence at the border by creating a mural honoring a man they call exemplary.

Maria Puga spoke lovingly of her husband, Anastasio Hernández Rojas, saying in Spanish he was a wonderful father for their 5 children, now 12-25-years-old.

Pedro Rios, American Friends Service Committee Program Director, said Hernández was a pool construction worker and when the bubble burst, he didn't have much work. The family fell on hard times, and around Mother's Day, he tried to steal flowers, and a steak (for carne asada). He was caught and deported.

It was when he was trying to come back over the border to his family, according to Puga, that several agents arrested and tased him. He died from the injuries.

A Customs and Border Patrol spokeswoman said the incident happened at the Port of Entry and the uniformed agents were part of the Office of Field Operations

The altercation was caught on camera and saw time in front of a judge in two separate cases. One awarding his children $1,000,000.

Puga said it's been a hard road, explaining her youngest children would ask where dad is and want to know every detail of what happened to him.

If Puga could speak with the men in the video, she said she would ask them why? Why did they kill him? Why didn't they think about how he has a family, a mother and father who cry for him?

The case getting worldwide attention, it's being heard before the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights Coalition.

"This is the first case that is before the commission that charges the United States government with not only abusing it's power in the killing of Anastasio and many other cases, but also engaging in coverup," Andrea Guerrero, Co-Counsel on the IACHR, said.

Guerrero said Border Patrol agents have killed at least 50 people in the past 8 years and they're not being held accountable.

Customs and Border Patrol said they do not comment on speculation. CBP told 10News they are planning on implementing body cameras, but not in San Diego:

CBP is deploying cameras from May 2018 through October 2018.  Agents and officers will evaluate the use of IDVRS ( Incident-Driven Video Recording Systems) in each of CBP’s operational environments along the U.S. border, at and between ports of entry, in the air and at sea.

This field evaluation will inform future directives and policies and will support any larger deployment of IDVRS technology across CBP.  

It will take place at the following operational locations:

o Land port(s) of entry – Detroit, MI and Eagle Pass, TX;
o Airport(s) – Atlanta, GA;
o Seaport(s) – Long Beach, CA;
o Checkpoint/Field Operations – Campo, CA; Kingsville, TX; Las Cruces, NM;
o Air Branch – Tucson, AZ;
o Marine Branch – West Palm Beach, FL.

The IDVRS evaluation will support our disciplined and professional workforce and will serve to protect our agents and officers as well as the public.  

As an organization committed to continuous improvement, innovation, transparency and the highest standards of professionalism, we are pursuing new technologies, and embracing those that efficiently and effectively support our agency’s goals and objectives and the environments in which we operate.

To that end, CBP is exploring the use of IDVRS including vehicle-mounted camera (VMC) and body-worn camera (BWC) system.

CBP is seeking to expand its audio and video recording capability to enhance transparency and accountability with the public through the use of a body worn cameras and other video recording systems.

"It's a tragic example of where we find ourselves at at the border," Artist Victor Ochoa said sympathizing with Hernández's family. He said he has four generations split between America and Mexico. 

Ochoa has deep roots in Chicano Park, painting murals that spark conversation, "I've been able to manipulate negative things into beautiful things, but still with a conscious-raising attitude."

He has a window into Hernández's life, doing research through family interviews, and watching videos. Ochoa believes he's a great example they can paint around to convey the struggle families face with violence at the border.

The Chicano Park Steering Committee, headed by neighbors, has yet to formally approve a location for the mural.

Progress will start with the IACHR case next year.

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