Members of Congress Press DHS, DOJ Over Inquiry Into Immigrant’s Death

BY News Desk  May 11, 2012 at 2:30 AM EDT

After our colleagues at “Need to Know” aired this report last month on the violent death of a man on the U.S.-Mexico border two years ago, 16 members of Congress said Thursday that the footage raises “serious questions” about the role of the Border Patrol in the killing.

According to “Need to Know:”

Eight people have been killed along the border in the past two years. One man died a short time after being beaten and tased, an event recorded by two eyewitnesses whose video is the centerpiece of the report. Both eyewitnesses say the man offered little or no resistance. One told ‘Need to Know’ that she felt like she watched someone being ‘murdered,’ and the San Diego coroner’s office classified the death as a ‘homicide.’

In response to the April 20 report Crossing the Line at the Border, the representatives wrote Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, Attorney General Eric Holder and the DHS Office of the Inspector General and called for a thorough investigation in the death of Anastacio Hernandez-Rojas and greater oversight of the Border Patrol.

“The disturbing footage and eye-witness accounts that aired on PBS raise serious questions about the Border Patrol’s role in the death of Anastacio Hernandez-Rojas and after two years, we owe it to his family to finally provide some definitive answers,” Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, D-Calif., said in a news release.

Hernandez-Rojas’ mother has been visiting Washington this week, seeking answers in her son’s death.

According to The Associated Press:

A Justice Department spokesman, Xochitl Hinojosa, declined to comment on the video or on the status of the investigation, saying it is not complete.

A San Diego County coroner’s autopsy found that Hernandez died of a heart attack, with a heart condition and methamphetamine use listed as contributing factors. The autopsy said Hernandez was unresponsive shortly after he was shot with a stun gun, apparently three or four times.

Authorities say Hernandez was resisting agents as they were trying to return him to Mexico at San Diego’s San Ysidro port of entry, the nation’s busiest border crossing. The illegal immigrant and longtime San Diego resident had been deported May 25, and the Border Patrol arrested him when he tried to return to the U.S. three days later.

Also watch: “I Think I Witnessed Someone Being Murdered