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Tuesday, July 16, 2024 | Back issues
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Man Says Border Patrol Ran Him Down

LAREDO, Texas (CN) - A Border Patrol agent chased down an unarmed fleeing man and ran him over, a reckless pursuit that got the agent's vehicle stuck on the banks of the Rio Grande, the injured man claims in court.

Rogelio Marquez Rodriguez, 36, says he "crossed into the U.S. from Mexico, without inspection, to pursue dignified, fair, lawful economic opportunities" and was rudely greeted by overzealous Border Patrol agent Richard Edward Oelfke-Philip.

Marquez sued the United States of America on Tuesday in Federal Court. Oelfke-Philip is not a defendant.

Marquez says he did not have a weapon, nor did he fight with or threaten Oelfke-Philip before the officer saw him running toward the river on Aug. 18, 2012 in Laredo and hit the gas.

"Due to the violent force of the impact, Mr. Marquez's body was thrown a few feet away from the vehicle and it immediately caused him serious personal injuries and severe pain, suffering and discomfort that left him splayed on the ground unable to get up," the complaint states.

Marquez suffered a broken arm and back injuries that still give him shooting pains three years later, he says.

He waited this long to file suit because he is making his case under the Federal Torts Claim Act, which requires filing an administrative claim with the proper agency before one can sue the government for its employee's negligence.

The Department of Homeland Security is in charge of the Border Patrol. It denied Marquez's claim in April, writing : "Based on the investigation made in connection with this claim and the evidence before U.S. Customs and Border Protection, we are denying this claim in its entirety."

Marquez says a policeman documented evidence that proves Oelfke-Philip acted maliciously.

"The police officer who accompanied Mr. Marquez to the scene of the BP agent's crime noted that there were no skid marks of any brakes having been applied by the BP agent," the lawsuit states.

"In fact, the BP agent drove his vehicle so forcefully and fast that his vehicle was left stuck on the river embankment."

Marquez seeks $750,000 in damages for assault, battery, gross negligence and infliction of emotional distress.

He is represented by Norma Nelly Vielma in Laredo.

The Border Patrol does not comment on pending litigation.

The lawsuit comes as the Border Patrol became the subject of a stinging report , accusing it of committing an "epidemic" of abuses.

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