TUCSON, Arizona (AP) – A former US Border Patrol agent who shot and wounded a Mexican man intentionally used excessive force and was not justified in opening fire, a federal judge said as he awarded the victim half a million dollars in a lawsuit.
Gunfire hit Jesus Castro-Romo of Nogales, Sonora, in the stomach on Nov 16, 2010, after he was caught crossing illegally from Mexico into the Arizona desert. Former agent Abel Canales did not face criminal charges after the shooting was deemed justified by Colorado prosecutors, who reviewed the case because federal prosecutors in Arizona had a conflict of interest.
In a ruling issued Feb 5 in the civil case, Judge James A Soto awarded Castro-Romo nearly $500,000 in damages and said Canales lacked credibility.
“Canales was given every opportunity to describe in detail the encounter with Castro – with counsel present – the day after the shooting occurred,” Soto wrote. “Then, after significant time had passed and in preparation for trial, details of his testimony changed and new details were added.”
Mark Pestal, the public defender assigned to the civil case, said Canales was interviewed about the shooting one day after it happened even though it’s recommended practice to give law enforcement officers a few days to regroup.