Feds bury Border Patrol abuses of immigrants, but what's been unearthed reveals a culture of cruelty 

Page 2 of 13

Navarrete said he heard four, maybe six, shots from the stun gun, and saw the victim's body convulse.

Hernandez Rojas' whimpering could no longer be heard. His body was stone still.

Realizing their deportee had stopped breathing, agents used CPR to try to revive him. About 10 minutes later, an ambulance arrived, and paramedics scooped up the broken man and took him to a hospital.

Eugene Iredale, a representative for the victim's family, said medical officials who examined Hernandez Rojas believe his brain was deprived of oxygen for about eight minutes after his heart stopped. He already was brain dead when he arrived at the hospital.

About 12 hours later, doctors removed him from life support and pronounced him dead.

A deputy at the San Diego County Medical Examiner's Office told New Times that the cause of death was a combination of methamphetamine in his system, high blood pressure, and a heart attack.

The medical examiner noted in the autopsy report that Hernandez Rojas' death was a homicide — a term used because he had been restrained in police custody when he died. The term does not dictate criminal guilt — that's up to prosecutors — and no one has been charged in the killing.

When Navarrete heard later about a fatal incident involving the Border Patrol, he realized that the man who died was the one he had filmed getting beaten and stunned. He went public with his video and his recollection of that night.

That was about seven months ago, and there still are no official answers about what happened and no police reports about the incident available to the public. Guadalupe Valencia, an attorney for the dead man's family, said he soon will file a wrongful-death lawsuit in federal court in San Diego.

Based on accounts from witnesses and from Hernandez Rojas' brother, who was traveling with him at the time and was also detained by the Border Patrol, his family has been able to piece together some of the events leading up to his death.

Hernandez Rojas, who had lived in San Diego for 27 years, was deported to Mexico after police discovered after a traffic violation that he was living illegally in the United States. He, along with his brother, had crossed the border into California to reunite with his family. They were spotted in a rural area and rounded up by la migra.

The two were taken to a detention center in Otay Mesa, a rural border community inside San Diego's corporate limits, and locked up in a holding cell.

Valencia said Hernandez Rojas complained at the detention center that agents were roughing up detainees. After 2½ decades in the United States, the attorney said, Hernandez Rojas knew that even undocumented aliens are constitutionally entitled to humane treatment.

Agents at the facility ordered Hernandez Rojas to get rid of a bottle of water, and he apparently dumped the water on the floor.

Agents took him to another holding cell, and while they were restraining him, one of the agents kicked him in a once-fractured ankle held together by five metal screws, according to family representative Iredale.

"As we understand it, he then wanted to make a complaint regarding his treatment," Iredale said. "And instead of being permitted to file a complaint, or being given medical attention, [he was told he would be deported]."

Later, he was taken to the San Ysidro border crossing. But he wasn't shuffled across the border with other undocumented immigrants. Hernandez Rojas was kept alone with agents at the crossing.

"Why was Mr. Hernandez brought alone, without other persons who were going to be returned or repatriated to Mexico, at that time of night?" Iredale said. "Why, since he was only about 100 feet [from Mexico], was he not simply turned over to Mexican authorities?"

Comments (129)

Showing 1-25 of 129

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-25 of 129

Add a comment

More by Monica Alonzo

Latest in Immigration

  • Return to Sender

    What would comprehensive immigration reform look like if the feds got off their duffs?
    • Dec 22, 2010
  • FAIRY-y Tales

    Russell Pearce and other illegal-immigration populists rely on misleading, right-wing reports
    • Dec 1, 2010
  • Whose dole is it, anyway?

    • Dec 1, 2010
  • More »

Facebook Activity

All contents ©2015 Kansas City Pitch LLC
All rights reserved. No part of this service may be reproduced in any form without the express written permission of Kansas City Pitch LLC,
except that an individual may download and/or forward articles via email to a reasonable number of recipients for personal, non-commercial purposes.

All contents © 2012 SouthComm, Inc. 210 12th Ave S. Ste. 100, Nashville, TN 37203. (615) 244-7989.
All rights reserved. No part of this service may be reproduced in any form without the express written permission of SouthComm, Inc.
except that an individual may download and/or forward articles via email to a reasonable number of recipients for personal, non-commercial purposes.
Website powered by Foundation