Coroner: Unclear How Migrant Died in Custody

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    NEWSLETTERS

    NBCSanDiego

    An autopsy report released Friday says it is unclear how a heart condition and methamphetamine use caused the death of a Mexican immigrant who was shot with a stun gun by a U.S. agent, shedding little new light on an incident that has sparked outrage in Mexico.

    San Diego County Chief Medical Examiner Glenn Wagner characterizes Anastasio Hernandez's methamphetamine blood level of 0.16 milligrams per liter as acute but lists it as only one of several contributing factors.

    Caught on Camera: Border Struggle

    [DGO] Caught on Camera: Border Struggle
    A video appears to show a portion of the confrontation that led to the death of an illegal immigrant May 29 at the San Diego-Tijuana border crossing. Humberto Navarrete captured the grainy and dark video on his cellphone. In it Navarrete said Anastasio Hernandez Rojas yelled for help as U.S. Border Patrol agents attempt to subdue him. (Published Thursday, Jun 10, 2010)

    It was also unclear how much blame should be assigned to the stun gun and Hernandez's agitated state, Wagner said.

    The autopsy said Hernandez was apparently shot with the stun gun three or four times and had puncture wounds on his left buttock and right side. His stomach showed soft tissue that appeared to be from a collapsible baton.

    The autopsy confirms preliminary findings that Hernandez, 42, died of a heart attack, with his heart condition and methamphetamine use listed as contributing factors.

    The coroner has ruled the death on May 29 a homicide. San Diego police has finished its investigation and will share the results with federal prosecutors, who will decide whether to pursue criminal charges, Lt. Kevin Rooney said earlier this week.

    The Mexican government has condemned the use of force against Hernandez. Less than two weeks after his death, a U.S. Border Patrol agent fatally shot a 15-year-old Mexican boy near downtown El Paso. The shooting came just after a group trying to illegally enter Texas threw rocks at officers.

    Hernandez was being escorted back to Tijuana, Mexico, at the San Ysidro border crossing when he got into a tussle with federal agents. He had been arrested by the Border Patrol with his brother in the rugged mountains east of San Diego.

    Authorities contend that Hernandez became combative after his handcuffs were removed, and Customs and Border Protection officer shocked him with the stun gun. He stopped breathing and showed no pulse.

    The autopsy report says Hernandez had "superficial blunt force" injuries on his face, stomach, hands and legs. It does not say in what position authorities tried to restrain Hernandez before he collapsed.