U.S. District Court Judge James Soto awarded an illegal alien nearly $500,000 after he was shot in the back by a Border Patrol Agent. The now imprisoned Border Patrol agent claimed the immigrant threatened him with a rock. The judge ruled against the government and ruled in favor of the illegal alien.
Most of the facts leading up to the shooting were the same in the suspect’s statements and the agent’s statements according to court documents obtained by Breitbart Texas (see attachment below). The details of the actual shooting, however, differ strongly between the two people and the judge determined the agent’s version to be less credible. He based this ruling, at least in part, on the agent’s later arrest and conviction on charges for accepting a bribe to allow smugglers to pass through his inspection lane at a Border Patrol checkpoint.
The illegal immigrant, Jesus Castro Romo, testified that Agent Abel Canales was beating him with the reins of his horse. Castro had run away from a group of immigrants who had been captured and Canales had tracked him down while on horseback. “Canales moved his horse toward Castro and bumped into his back,” court records of Castro’s testimony state. “Castro protested this treatment and told Canales to stop, which caused Canales to hit Castro with the reins of his horse and respond: ‘I don’t care you son of a bitch. I’ll hit you whenever I want.’ Castro responded that if he was hit one more time, he would run toward Mexico. Canales continued to strike Castro with the reins of his horse.”
“Castro searched for a place where he would be safe from those strikes,” the testimony report stated. “He continued to run while looking for a place to hide, and he eventually returned to about the same spot where Canales initially caught him on the horse. There, Castro crouched down to avoid being hit with the reins and felt that he was shot.”
Canales testified that Castro twice attempted to pick up a rock which he perceived to be a threat. The second time, Canales stated Castro pulled back his arm in a throwing motion and that is when Canales fired the shot that wounded Castro.
Judge Soto determined the testimony of Canales was less credible because his testimony changed several times and he was later convicted of accepting a bribe. “Being convicted of any crime for which dishonesty is a factor tends to undermine the reliability of a witness,” the judge wrote in the case findings. “In this case, however, the conviction involved Canales’ work for the Border Patrol. Specifically, Canales had accepted a bribe from drug smugglers in exchange for allowing them to come through his inspection lane at a border patrol checkpoint.”
The judge also weighed in on the use of deadly force where Border Patrol agents are threatened by an immigrant using a rock as a weapon. Border Patrol policy currently allows agents to use deadly force, or the threat of deadly force when they believe their life is in danger from anyone with a weapon, including a rock. Breitbart Texas‘ Managing Director Brandon Darby reported on incidents where agents have been severely injured by illegal immigrants using rocks as weapons.
“The possibility (not probability) of Castro having a rock in his hand – as opposed to a much more lethal weapon, such as a gun – requires a greater level of certainty before deadly force can be justified as reasonable,” the judge wrote in his findings. “Put more bluntly, a rock is not as deadly an object as a gun and requires a greater degree of certainty that the object will be used than the threat or perceived threat of a gun.”
The judge ruled that Castro would be awarded $553,270.46 in actual, economic and punitive damages. He then determined the award would be reduced by Castro’s contributory factor in his injuries. He determined that Castro was only responsible by 10 percent because he had entered the country illegally. The final award was $497,943.41.
Judge Soto was appointed by President Barack Obama in December, 2013 and took the bench after confirmation in May, 2014.
Bob Price is a senior political news contributor for Breitbart Texas and a member of the original Breitbart Texas team. Follow him on Twitter @BobPriceBBTX.