Family's Lawsuit In Slain Border Patrol Agent Case Dismissed

By Alisa Barba
November 18, 2013
Photo courtesy U.S. Border Patrol.
Slain Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry.

Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was killed in 2010 after a shootout along the border. Weapons found at the scene were eventually traced back to the federal government’s botched “Operation Fast and Furious” gun-smuggling operation.

As a result, Terry’s family eventually filed a $25 million wrongful death claim against the United States government.

Late last week, a judge in federal court in Phoenix dismissed the lawsuit against six ATF employees and a prosecutor, ruling in part that, because the family already receives death benefits following Terry’s murder, compensation has already been made:

The court recognizes that plaintiffs have suffered a great loss and that any financial remedy is likely insufficient to redress their injury.

The family said it will appeal the judge's ruling and continue the lawsuit against the store at which the gun found at the scene was purchased.

The original claim, filed in January 2013, stated that two guns found at the scene were traced back to one gun smuggler, Jaime Avila, who was known to provide guns to Mexican drug cartels. The claim stated:

ATF had previously observed Avila make multiple illegal straw purchases of weapons and knew that Avila was illegally and fraudulently purchasing firearms as part of a criminal conspiracy to traffic drugs and commit acts of violence in both the United States and Mexico. But rather than intercepting the firearms and arresting Avila, ATF allowed him to deliver the guns to the Mexican gun cartels.

the former U.S. Attorney in Arizona, Paul Charlton, was hired by the family to investigate a possible lawsuit.  But when the details of Operation Fast and Furious were revealed, it was found that a similar so-called “gun-running” scheme was carried out under Charlton’s watch. Charlton then recused himself from the Terry case.

 The fallout from Operation Fast and Furious continues. Republicans in Congress continue to press for more documents from the Justice Department and for the resignation of U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.  Late last week, as the clamor rose once again for his resignation or impeachment, Holder said he planned to stay in the job through 2014.  

Three of the men accused in Terry's killing are in custody. Two others remain fugitives.