Gilmer Hernandez in Del Rio, Texas, prison (Photo: SWTexasLive.com)
In a case eerily reminiscent of the controversial jailing of Border Patrol agents Jose Compean and Ignacio Ramos while the illegal-alien drug-smuggler they wounded went free, two illegal aliens are now suing imprisoned Texas Deputy Sheriff Gilmer Hernandez for injuries from shell fragments that struck them as the officer shot at the tires of a van in which they escaped from a routine traffic stop.
Maricela Rodriguez-Garcia and Candido Garcia-Perez are preparing to file a civil lawsuit against Hernandez and Sheriff Don G. Letsinger, possibly seeking millions of dollars in damages for alleged violation of their civil rights.
Jimmy Parks, defense attorney for Hernandez, told WND the lawsuit “has just become standard operating procedure down here on the border.”
“There is a natural progression that begins when these people organize a professional (human) smuggling ring to get illegal aliens into the United States,” he said. “They become very sophisticated at it, then when law enforcement makes the attempt to try to break up the smuggling ring, they just run away.”
WND has obtained a copy of a draft complaint to be filed in the U.S. District Court in Del Rio, Texas, against Hernandez and Letsinger, both individually and in their official capacities.
Parks said he was not surprised by the lawsuit and expects “the illegal aliens are going to sue for millions in this case.”
Hernandez was sentenced last week to one-year plus one-day in federal prison for criminally violating the civil rights of the illegal aliens who were in a van that attempted to run over Hernandez after a traffic stop April 14, 2005, in Rocksprings, Texas. As WND reported, the federal government had recommended a seven-year prison term.
Attorney Jimmy Parks (Photo: SWTexasLive.com)
Rodriguez-Garcia was injured in the face and Garcia Perez on the arm by shell fragments from Hernandez’s weapon.
The complaint claims violations of Rodriguez-Garcia and Garcia-Perez’s civil rights under 42 U.S.C. Section 1983 and under the Fourth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.
Jim Kosub, the attorney representing Letsinger and Edwards County, told WND a mediation hearing had been scheduled in April on the threatened lawsuit.
The complaint charges Hernandez deprived the plaintiffs of their civil rights “by using deadly force in a situation in which such force was unwarranted.”
Parks told WND the illegal aliens organizing human smuggling operations don’t view the lights going off on a police vehicle as “a stop command.”
“The way to win the lottery is to take off and refuse to obey the lawful authority in the United States,” he said. “The illegal aliens know that if they can scrutinize the acts of the law enforcement officer, there’s a decent chance the police may end up going to prison, while the illegal aliens are end up with one good lawsuit.”
Parks explained that during the trial, evidence came out that the Mexican consulate was trying to get jobs and citizenship for the illegal aliens involved in the Hernandez incident, including Rodriguez-Garcia and Garcia Perez.
Sheriff Don Letsinger (Photo: SWTexasLive.com)
The draft complaint identifies the two as residents of Travis County, Texas.
Parks affirmed that Rodriguez-Garcia and Garcia-Perez “have been living in Travis County for some time,” but they “just go back and forth to Mexico illegally.”
“What the complaint doesn’t say is that they are illegal residents of Travis County,” he said. “That’s the truth.”
A frustrated Parks asked, “Why would anyone in their right mind want to be a law enforcement officer down on the border in this day and age?”
He said Homeland Security “puts undue pressure on the border law enforcement officers, telling them that they are our nation’s frontline of defense against another terrorist attack in New York or Washington.”
“But if you make one single mistake, you may be prosecuted, sent to federal prison, and bankrupt in a civil suit,” he said.
Hernandez and his wife were devastated by the prospect of facing this law suit.
“Economically, Mrs. Hernandez is living day-to-day,” Parks said. “The only thing that gives them inspiration to get through the day is that Gil Hernandez and his wife know they have to stay strong for their 7-month daughter, Alektra. This civil law suit just adds injury on top of injury for Gil Hernandez and his family.”
Letsinger also said the suit was expected.
“I think it is kind of ridiculous that a bunch of people enter into a felony conspiracy to violate the immigration laws of the United States, and one of the conspirators who was driving the vehicle tries to run over a deputy sheriff,” Letsinger told WND. “And now the conspirators want to turn around and sue the deputy sheriff for defending his life, as well as sue the county and the sheriff the deputy worked for.”
The complaint alleges the “force used by said Defendant was excessive and caused Plaintiffs severe injuries. Said Defendant’s conduct was grossly disproportionate to the need for action under the circumstances and amounted to an abuse of official power that shocks the conscience.”
The complaint charges Letsinger and Edwards County, claiming their “rules regulations and policies, as well as the training program in existence prior to and at the time of the shooting” were “unconstitutionally deficient and authorized unconstitutional behavior.”
The “deadly force policy in effect” caused Hernandez to “use excessive force” against the illegals, the complaint said.
Damages will be sought for “medical expenses, pain and suffering, mental anguish, and physical impairment. Plaintiffs also will seek exemplary damages, as well as reimbursement for attorneys’ fees and the costs of litigation.”
No dollar amount for damages is specified in the draft complaint.
Rodriguez-Garcia and Garcia-Perez are represented by James D. Doyle, III, of the law firm Kuhn, Doyle & Kuhn, P.C., in Austin, Texas.
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