Man Denied Assistance for Property Damage Caused by Border Patrol Pursuit
RIO GRANDE CITY – A Border Patrol pursuit left one owner searching for repairs for his property. It happened months ago. Now, the owner found out the feds won't be helping him.
When a car slams into a house, fence or your front yard as a result of a Border Patrol pursuit, there is a system in place you can use to request assistance. The homeowner we spoke with says he has exhausted that resource.
For the last couple of months, Rogerio Estrada Jr.'s fence lies in pieces.
"This accident happened in September of last year," says Estrada. It's what's left of a man trying to get away from the law.
"They were coming on 549 south. And, the vehicle ended up right here. The driver bailed almost about right here. And, he took off and the vehicle had marijuana in it," he says.
Estrada explains that the driver left behind his vehicle, drugs and left his gate in shambles. At the time, there was a solution proposed.
"At that time, BP was very helpful. They said don't worry; we'll take care of it," says Estrada.
Three quotes for repairs estimate it will set him back about $5,200.
In these situations of property damage or loss, personal injury or death, the public can submit what's called a Tort claim through the Federal Tort Claims Act, or FTCA.
Estrada submitted his claim along with three quotes hoping to get financial help. Months later, the decision arrived. It reads in part:
"Although it is unfortunate that your property may have been damaged, CBP cannot compensate you without evidence that the damage was caused by a wrongful or negligent act of a CBP employee. Therefore, your claim is hereby denied under the FTCA."
A statement from Border Patrol's Rio Grande Valley Sector reads:
Unfortunately, criminals have no regard for the safety of the general public or property as they are engaging in illicit activity. As a general rule, the U.S. Border Patrol is not liable for property damage caused by individuals engaged in criminal activity such as alien and narcotic smuggling. If an individual believes that the U.S. Border Patrol is responsible for property damage, the individual may file an administrative claim seeking monetary compensation with U.S. Border Patrol. This can be accomplished by submitting a Standard Form 95 with supporting documentation to the U.S. Border Patrol. An investigation will then be conducted to determine whether the individual will receive compensation.
Estrada added, "I don't think that I have to pay $5,200 for something that I haven't done."
Estrada says his crumbled gate will stay open until this question is resolved.
CHANNEL FIVE NEWS called Starr County's Sheriff's Office. If the vehicle is awarded to the Sheriff's Office, they sell them at auction.
When there's damage done to a property, part of those proceeds could go back to the property owner.
The Starr County Sheriff's Office is looking back at their records to see if that could help this homeowner.
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