Man shot with Taser in fight at border diesBy Leslie Berestein and Kristina Davis, Union-Tribune Staff Writers
Jun. 02, 2010
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SAN DIEGO — A man who died after being shot with a Taser stun gun Friday night by federal border officers had lived in the U.S. for 27 years, had five children and worked in construction, his wife said.
Maria Puga, the wife of Anastacio Hernandez Rojas, said Tuesday that she was too distraught to comment further.
Hernandez Rojas, a Mexican national, was declared brain-dead Saturday at a Chula Vista hospital, according to the county Medical Examiner’s Office. He suffered heart failure Monday and was taken off life support then, San Diego police said.
Hernandez Rojas lived with his family in the Encanto area of San Diego. He was initially listed as 32 years old on the medical examiner’s website, though other documents show him to be 42. He is believed to have been living in the country illegally since he was a minor.
Capt. Jim Collins of the San Diego Police Department, which is investigating the death, said Hernandez Rojas and his brother were arrested by U.S. Border Patrol agents about 7:20 p.m. Friday on suspicion of illegally crossing the border in the Otay Mountain area. He had been previously deported, a federal official said.
After their arrest in the mountains, Hernandez Rojas and his brother were transported to a Border Patrol station for processing, Collins said, then to the border turnstile at San Ysidro to be returned to Mexico. As agents were unloading him from a van and taking off his handcuffs, “he started fighting with the Border Patrol agents,” who used batons to try to subdue him, Collins said.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers were called for help. A customs agent shot Hernandez Rojas him in the back with a Taser, and he stopped breathing shortly afterward, Collins said. He was found to have two darts from the stun gun in his back.
Officers administered CPR before paramedics took Hernandez Rojas to the hospital.
Authorities are awaiting autopsy results to determine what role, if any, the Taser may have played in his death.
Police are investigating the incident and documenting the amount of force used by officers before submitting the case to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for review.
According to Pedro Rios of the American Friends Service Committee, Hernandez Rojas’ children are U.S. citizens and range in age from 20 to twin 4-year-old sons.
“He had decided to come back and be with his family,” Rios said.
Federal officials have declined to release the names of the officers involved.
In a statement released Tuesday, Mexico’s Department of Exterior Relations condemned the use of the Taser and stated that the Mexican government will press for a full investigation.