In a shocking turn of events in the case of Anastasio Hernández Rojas, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced Friday that they will not prosecute the agents involved in his death.
The DOJ cited a lack of evidence to meet the standard for federal criminal prosecution. Despite eyewitness testimony and video, DOJ concluded they were unable to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the agents committed homicide or civil rights violations.
Following are statements from the family of Anastasio Hernández Rojas along with representatives from the Southern Border Communities Coalition.
Maria Puga, widow of Anastasio Hernández Rojas:
“We waited more than five years for an answer to our pain, and we are sad, disillusioned and angered by today’s announcement. We expected and hoped for a more positive response given the brutality we saw in eyewitness videos. The government failed to deliver justice today.
How can we believe in the government if they cannot deliver justice. From the beginning, it seemed like the investigation favored the agents; they got away with murder.
One of the things that bothers me most is the fact that the government keeps stating that my husband had methamphetamines in his body and that this was the cause of his death. But he was a very healthy person, he did a lot of exercise, and he did not do drugs. What killed my husband was the electric shocks, the beating, and more. The medical examiner* was clear. My husband’s cause of death was homicide. And that’s what the agents should be charged with.”
Luz Rojas, mother of Anastasio Hernandez Rojas:
“This is not justice. It seems like justice is only for the wealthy and not for the poor. It took five years of struggle just for them to deny us . They say that no one is responsible for the death of my son, but they are responsible. The agents that beat him, electrocuted him, and choked him are responsible.”
Bernardo Hernandez Rojas, brother of Anastasio Hernandez Rojas:
“The law should apply to everyone. No one should be above the law. But today it seems like these agents are above the law. They are immune.
If someone hits a dog, they get charged. These agents killed my brother, but nothing will happen to them. That is not right. Where is the justice?”
Pedro Rios, Director, US-Mexico Border Program, American Friends Service Committee:
“There is no justice in the news that the Hernandez Rojas family received today. It is unconscionable that based on the evidence at hand, and what the entire world witnessed through the videos that civilians recorded, that the Department of Justice will not bring criminal charges.
While this is a blow to the greater border community who has stood by the Hernandez Rojas family through their pain over the past five years, we remain committed to seeking justice in this case and all who have suffered at the hands of an agency that operates with impunity.”
Andrea Guerrero, Executive Director of Alliance San Diego and Co-Chair of the Southern Border Communities Coalition
“We stand with the family and we will continue to work for justice in the brutal and unjustified killing of Anastasio. This fight is not over. We are headed to the international courts and are preparing a petition now to bring to the Inter American Commission for Human Rights.
We have a policing crisis in this country and as a nation we have to stand together against police abuse and impunity. Until the government stops blaming the victims and taking responsibility for reforming police, including CBP, we will continue the fight.
This decision does nothing to stop agents from acting with impunity and disregard for life in our region. Instead it reinforces the idea that people, human beings, seeking a better life, safety and prosperity have no rights and can expect no justice in the land of ‘liberty and justice for all’.”
On May 28, 2010, Anastasio Hernandez Rojas, a longtime resident of San Diego, was brutally beaten, shot with a Taser and killed by border agents at the San Ysidro Port of Entry. An eyewitness recorded the incident and the video became international news, calling into question the brutality of (CBP), which has long been alleged to abuse residents of southern border communities.The video captured the scene of over a dozen officers surrounding Anastasio who was handcuffed and hogtied face down on the ground while he was beaten and shot with a Taser five times. The Medical Examiner’s Office ruled Anastasio’s death a homicide and experts have described the incident as torture. See video of Anastasio in the hospital.
Border agents were unsuccessful in their attempts to confiscate and destroy all video footage taken by witnesses. Two years after Rojas’ murder, footage was released and aired nationally on PBS’ Need to Know. After the show aired, the Southern Border Communities Coalition (SBCC) traveled with Anastasio’s family to Washington, D.C. to meet with members of Congress and ask for their help in pursuing justice not only for the killing of Anastasio, but the killings of other border residents. As a result of this advocacy, 16 members of Congress sent letters to the Department of Homeland Security, theInspector General and the Department of Justice expressing concern over Anastasio Hernandez Rojas’ death, which prompted further investigation.