The story starts in May 2010, when Anastasio Hernandez Rojas attempted to enter the United States at the border near San Diego. When he was apprehended by Customs and Border Protection Agents, Hernandez Rojas’ story became tragic. After he was tied up, about a dozen officers surrounded the lone man and proceeded to tase and beat him. He died in the hospital attached to breathing tubes just days later.
The initial brutality and death did not garner much media attention in May 2010 and joined the ranks of many other stories of brutality that were not fated to receive the nationwide attention they deserved. But eyewitness footage has just been unearthed by PBS that reveals untold aspects of Hernandez Rojas’ death.
Two videos surfaced. One video contains the cries from the victim as he screams for help. The grainy footage of the other, even more shocking video, reveals a sole Hernandez Rojas lying on the ground as about a dozen officers congregate around his prone form to “subdue” him. The video also reveals the moment an officer leans over the man’s body and proceeds to tase his hogtied form.
The death was originally categorized as a “homocide” and the ultimate cause of death was stated as a heart attack. No officers were investigated for the death of Hernandez Rojas, most likely because, as part of the Department of Homeland Security, these officers face less scrutiny for their actions.
Eyewitnesses maintain that Hernandez Rojas presented no threat to the officers as they proceeded to attack him. Images of the victim after his apprehension show his bruised and beaten body, attached to breathing tubes in the hospital. And it seems quite eerie that 10 to 12 officers were required to subdue a solitary man with no weapons or defenses.
The videos come on the heels of increasing unease with police brutality and abuse practiced by border patrol agents across the country. An immigrant advocacy group in Seattle filed a formal complaint against the U.S. Department of Justice this week for bringing in border patrol agents to monitor routine checks where no reinforcement or brutality was necessary, according to the Huffington Post. Hernandez Rojas’ case, and the accompanying videos, only add fuel to a growing campaign to demand justice for victims.
Nine cities hosted events this week to mark the anniversary of Hernandez Rojas’ death. The marches and vigils were meant to call attention to the case and to demand that the U.S. Department of Justice continue to investigate the man’s death and bring those responsible to justice. These events are also part of a larger push to demand justice for victims of border patrol violence. The victim’s widow has been fighting for recognition of the brutality visited on her husband that night for the last two years. He was a human being, a father of five children and eyewitnesses continue to maintain that he put up no resistance to the brutality.
At least eight people have been killed by federal border agents over the last two years, including two people in Mexico. The recent PBS documentary and the striking footage that it reveals highlights the brutal and dark side of border patrol practices and demands that we take a closer look at the inhumane decisions of individuals who face no consequences for their actions.
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons