Wednesday, October 4, 2023
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‘Let the Dog Die’

BROWNSVILLE, Texas (CN) - U.S. border patrolmen used a long-range rifle to kill a man who was "legally on his native soil in Mexico, unarmed and unthreatening," then told the man's brother, in Spanish, "Let the dog die," the man's family claims in Federal Court.

Survivors of the late Juan Perez Santillan's sued the United States, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Justice, and John Doe border patrol agents. They also sued DHS creatures, the U.S. Bureau of Customs and Border Protection, or Border Patrol, and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency.

"On July 7, 2012, Juan Pablo Perez Santillan, at approximately 7:00 a.m., was giving directions to a group of ten people on how to swim across the Rio Grande River located in Brownsville, Texas," the complaint states. "On this morning, Mr. Santillan instructed that they would be swimming across the river in groups of five when he gave them the signal.

"The first group was already in the United States territory when Mr. Santillan instructed the second group to start swimming across the river. Mr. Santillan's brother was in the second group.

"When the second group reached the bank of the Rio Grande River, in the United States, Mr. Santillan started yelling and waving his hands in the air at the second group in order to warn them that the U.S. Border Patrol was approaching. The second group immediately went back into the Rio Grande River in order to cross the river, back into Mexico.

"Suddenly, United States Border Patrol agents, particularly, Agent Doe, aimed his long-range rifle at Mr. Santillan, using the rifle's high-power scope to sight Mr. Santillan, and fired the rifle at least five times, fatally wounding Mr. Santillan with at least one gunshot wound to the chest.

"Mr. Santillan, who had been standing safely and legally on his native soil in Mexico, unarmed and unthreatening, was fatally wounded. Mr. Santillan was thirty years old at the time of his death.

"Once Mr. Santillan's brother, Damian Perez Santillan, arrived back on the Mexican shore of the river, he saw that his brother was lying in a pool of blood coming from the gunshot wound to his chest.

"He yelled for help while looking at the Border Patrol Agents who were still pointing the guns at them, and one or more of the Border Patrol Agents responded by saying 'que se muera el perro' or 'let the dog die.'

"Damien Perez Santillan, along with two others, carried Mr. Santillan

to his truck and transported him to the hospital where he died."

Santillan's family says that shortly before the shooting there was "some rock throwing by other Mexican nationals further down the river."

The family says the "trigger-happy and improperly trained" Border Patrolman took advantage of that situation to shoot Santillan, who had nothing to do with it.

"This heinous act was apparently also the result of the 'corporate culture' or general mentality of the U.S. Border Patrol - which the United States of American and its agencies have allowed to develop and go unchecked - regarding its unofficial 'open season' policy concerning the use of excessive and deadly force against Mexicans and other Latinos in the area of the Mexican-American border," the complaint states.

The family seeks damages for wrongful death and civil rights violations.

The plaintiffs include Santillan's mother, his four children and the two mothers of his children.

They are represented by Marc Rosenthal with Rosenthal & Watson, of Austin.

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