By Lydia Warren
PUBLISHED: 17:53 EST, 20 April 2012 | UPDATED: 17:53 EST, 20 April 2012
A video has emerged that appears to show an illegal immigrant from Mexico being beaten and tasered by more than a dozen border patrol agents just hours before his death.
It comes as another video apparently captures Anastacio Hernandez Rojas screaming for help as he begs the officers to spare his life in May 2010 at the U.S.-Mexico border.
The videos, along with two eyewitness accounts of the alleged attack, feature as part of a PBS Need to Know report, carried out with the Investigative Fund of the Nation Institute.
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Evidence: A video has emerged of border control officers apparently tasering and beating an illegal immigrant who later died. An officer can be seen holding a stun gun as the victim lies in the circle of light
Rojas, a 42-year-old father of five, had been deported and was trying to sneak over the border when he was caught by Customs and Border Protection agents, who said he became ‘combative’.
In a press release following the attack, the San Diego Police Department said officers had to use a taser to ‘subdue the individual and maintain officer safety’ – and ‘the subject stopped breathing’.
The report, seen by ABC News, notes that when Rojas’s family visited in hospital – where he died days later – they saw signs he had been beaten, such as bruises and sores over his body.
In a new video taken from an overpass the night the attack occurred, Rojas appears to be lying on the ground surrounded by a group of officers. He is apparently struck and tasered repeatedly.
Injuries: Footage of Anastacio Hernandez Rojas after the incident shows him bruised in his hospital bed
Tragic: The coroner noted the father of five’s death as a ‘homicide’ – but no charges were ever brought
On the second video reportedly taken by the compound, Rojas cannot be seen, yet his screams of ‘Please!’, ‘No!’ and ‘Help!’ can be heard in Spanish as he pleads the officers to stop.
Eyewitness accounts add that Rojas was not fighting back as he was beaten, PBS said. One told Need to Know she felt as if she was watching someone being ‘murdered’.
The death was ruled a ‘homicide’ by the San Diego medical examiner and was investigated by police, yet no border control agents were charged for their part in the incident.
An autopsy report noted Rojas had had a heart attack. The coroner said it was not clear whether it was the result of the taser gun, a heart condition or his use of methamphetamine, found in his blood.
Pleas: On a second video, Rojas cannot be seen but can apparently be heard begging with officers to stop
Demands: His family has since demonstrated for his justice and filed a civil suit against the U.S. government
His family has since campaigned for justice into Rojas’s death and has staged demonstrations in Mexico. He had lived in the U.S. for more than two decades.
Last year, they filed a civil suit against the government claiming excessive force had led to his death.
The videos are part of a report into whether border control has been using excessive force on illegal immigrants after eight people have been killed along the border in the past two years, PBS said.
The case raises questions about border agents and what they can potentially do without facing the repercussions of their actions.
Watch: U.S. Border Patrol agents caught Rojas as he tried to sneak back across the border. Even though his death was recorded as a homicide, no agents have been charged (file picture)
As they are part of the Department of Homeland Security, they are not subjected to the same public scrutiny as police officers who use weapons while on duty, PBS reported.
In response to the allegations, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) told ABC news: ‘CBP stresses honor and integrity in every aspect of our mission. CBP employees and officers perform their duties with honor and distinction, working tirelessly every day to keep our country safe.
‘We do not tolerate abuse within our ranks, and we fully cooperate with any criminal or administrative investigations of alleged misconduct by any of our personnel, on or off duty.’
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