AUGUST 28, 2009
The Mexican family of an illegal immigrant shot after threatening a U.S. Border Patrol agent is suing the federal officer who pulled the trigger as well as the U.S. government.
The incident occurred in 2007 about 150 yards north of the Mexico-Arizona border between Bisbee and Douglas. Border Patrol Agent Nicholas Corbett apprehended a group of Mexican illegal aliens when one of them, Francisco Dominguez, became aggressive and attacked him with rocks. Fearing for his life, the federal officer shot Dominguez and killed him.
After meddling by the Mexican government, Corbett was charged with murder and the prosecution’s key witnesses were the illegal alien relatives—two brothers and a sister-in-law—that made the desert journey with the shot man. A Cochise County jury hung and prosecutors retried Corbett, but charges were dropped after the second jury hung.
This week Dominguez’s family in Mexico filed a wrongful death lawsuit in Tucson federal court claiming the border agent violated the illegal immigrant’s constitutional rights by using unlawful deadly force in the course of his duties as a U.S. government employee. Under the Federal Tort Claims Act, the lawsuit points out, the U.S. government is liable for a negligent or wrongful act of its employees.
The complaint further says that Corbett was very vocal about his “hatred of Mexicans” and that the U.S. Border Patrol should have known about the agent’s history of “ethnic hatred” before allowing him in the field. The agency’s negligent hiring practices essentially led to the illegal immigrant’s death, according to the complaint.
Violence along the border has escalated in the last few years as federal agents encounter heavily armed Mexican drug traffickers and human smugglers that attack them with weapons ranging from firearms to big rocks and Molotov cocktails—makeshift bombs made of a breakable container filled with flammable liquid. Prosecuting the federal officers who confront the danger in the course of guarding the nation’s borders seems rather bizarre.
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