Congress members call for investigation into border death - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Congress members call for investigation into border death

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Antastasio Hernandez Antastasio Hernandez
In this June 19,2010 file photo showing relatives and friends of Anastasio Hernandez carrying a casket out of a church after funeral services in San Diego. In this June 19,2010 file photo showing relatives and friends of Anastasio Hernandez carrying a casket out of a church after funeral services in San Diego.
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SAN DIEGO (CNS) - Sixteen members of Congress Thursday called for a complete investigation into the death two years ago of 42-year-old U.S. citizen who died after Border Patrol agents caught him trying to re-enter the United States at the San Ysidro Port of Entry.

The congressional members, including Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, D-Los Angeles, said the troubling findings on a recent PBS documentary, "Crossing the Line at the Border," reiterated the need for tougher oversight of Border Patrol personnel to end the abuse of people in the agency's custody.

The family of Anastacio Hernandez-Rojas filed a civil lawsuit against the federal government last year alleging that excessive force led to the death of the father of five in June 2010.

Hernandez-Rojas, a construction worker who had lived in the United States for more than two decades, had been deported and was caught trying to return to California.

According to the lawsuit, 20 to 25 Border Patrol agents took part in his beating and that he was on the ground when he was tased.

The Border Patrol said Hernandez-Rojas' behavior necessitated the use of a baton and stun gun. The agency said the victim "became combative" and the baton and stun gun were used to subdue him and maintain officer safety.

In the PBS documentary, the victim's cries for help can be heard as agents surround him.

"The disturbing footage and eyewitness 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," Roybal said. "In light of this new evidence, I call on the Justice Department to complete its protracted investigation and take appropriate action."

An autopsy report from the San Diego County Medical Examiner found the victim's death to be a homicide. He had a heart attack and it was not clear how much a stun gun, heart condition and/or his methamphetamine use were to blame in his death, according to officials at the Medical Examiner's Office.

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