Protecting the border is a difficult job. Almost daily, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol personnel come into contact with individuals attempting to illegally enter the United States. Regardless of the situation, these officers are required to use restraint and proper judgment in their apprehension and detainment of these individuals. Recently, a $1 million lawsuit was settled in a wrongful death claim after an individual attempting to enter the United States along the California border was detained and later died.
Reports indicate that the alleged victim was attempting to enter the United States and was detained by Border Patrol officers. Once his handcuffs were removed, the man began to fight with these officers. A stun gun was used in an attempt to subdue him; however, the victim became unresponsive and was transported to a local hospital. Autopsy results indicate that the man had a heart attack during the struggle with the officers.
This incident resulted in claims of excessive force. However, a Justice Department investigation indicated that the heart attack combined with the stun gun's electric shock and methamphetamine usage all played a part in the man's death. No criminal charges were filed and the investigation was closed. The man's wife and children, however, filed a wrongful death lawsuit. The $1 million settlement is scheduled to be paid after a petition is approved in court.
When one dies at the hands of another, it is possible that there is a legitimate claim for wrongful death within the California or federal legal system. If one believes that this is the case, he or she will want to discuss the situation with experienced legal counsel. After reviewing the circumstances and evidence, guidance can be given regarding available legal options.
Source: NBC Los Angeles, "$1M Settlement Reached for Use of Force Lawsuit Against Border Patrol", Jaspreet Kaur, Feb. 24, 2017