Multi-American

How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Border video raises questions about use of excessive force

Almost two years ago, a 42-year-old man named Anastasio Hernandez Rojas died in a San Diego hospital shortly after border agents in San Ysidro used a Taser stun gun to subdue him.

Hernandez, a construction worker, had lived with his family in the San Diego area and had reportedly been living in the U.S. as an undocumented immigrant for many years. He had recently been picked up by immigration agents and deported to Mexico, and was trying to return when he was caught crossing illegally by the Border Patrol. As he was being unloaded from a van at the border turnstile to be returned again, he resisted and several agents surrounded him.

Mexican officials I interviewed at the time told me that their own agents at the border had witnessed “a tremendous beating” and electric shocks. By the Mexican agents’ accounts, there were as many as 20 U.S. officers involved in the beating.

The case was investigated and Hernandez's death ruled a homicide, but the medical examiner's report also concluded that he suffered a heart attack, with hypertension, methamphetamine intoxication and the fight contributing. After his funeral, the case quietly went away.

Now there's new video of Hernandez's encounter with border agents, which will be shown on PBS tonight. It's part of a project done in partnership with the Investigative Fund of the Nation Institute, which investigates whether U.S. border agents have been using excessive force and raises questions about accountability and agent training. According to the documentary, eight people have been killed along the border in the past two years in similar incidents.

Hernandez's story is central to the documentary. In the video he's heard pleading for help while on the ground  surrounded by officers, at least a dozen of them, according to the PBS report.

What do you think transpired? Watch the video and share your opinion the below.

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