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.
Hernandez was being removed from the country at the San Ysidro Port of Entry when he resisted and was eventually shot with a Taser stun gun, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
“I witnessed everything that happened from the beginning to the end,” said Navarrete.
“I was on my way to Tijuana. One of the uniformed agents had a knee on his back, another agent had his other knee on the back of his neck,” he said.
In the video Navarrete asks a U.S. agent nearby why they’re using “excessive force.” The agent replies that it appears he’s not cooperating.
"On the fifth discharge, we couldn't hear Anastasio yelling anymore," Navarrete said.
Hernandez died of a heart attack after the attack. According to the San Diego County Medical Examiner’s office, the 42-year old had methamphetamine in his system at the time of his death.
Friends and family gathered in Lemon Grove to bury Hernandez Wednesday. Many discussed the grainy and dark video in which neither Hernandez nor the agents can be clearly seen.
“It's an outrage that you have a man who is under stress. Most likely being beaten by the screams he is making,” said Pedro Rios with the American Friends Service Committee.
“We want to make sure that this is a transparent investigation," Rios added. "We want to make sure that the details are made public.”
The incident, which is being investigated by the San Diego Police Department, has drawn protests from the Mexican government and immigrant rights groups.
On Wednesday night, Lt. Kevin Rooney said the department had just become aware of the cell phone video. They are planning to use the video in their investigation after they interview Navarrete.
A spokesperson for the U.S. Customs and Border Protection would only say that the agency is aware of the video and offered no other comment.
Published at 6:46 AM PDT on Jun 10, 2010