Friday, June 24, 2011

Agent Terry murder: Family plans to sue feds but not for money

Reporter: Steve Nuñez

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) – The family of a U.S. Border Patrol agent killed in a shoot out near Rio Rico is planning to sue the federal government. Brian Terry's mother tells 9 On Your Side she believes the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms, or ATF, is also responsible for her son's murder because top officials allowed the assault rifle that was used in his murder to get into the hands of Mexican drug cartels.

Now, more than six months later, Josephine Terry testified before the House Oversight and Government Reform committee calling on top Congressional lawmakers to force the Department of Justice to explain how a gun trafficking operation backfired.

"When it happened, how it happened, but never got no answers," said Terry when asked if she was satisfied with the answers given to her.
Terry accuses the ATF of trying to cover up her son's murder by refusing to identify top officials who knowingly authorized gun dealers to sell as many as 2,500 firearms to so-called straw purchasers who would then "walk" the guns into Mexico. The idea was to track the guns to drug cartel leaders to bust up the organization.

Instead, a congressional investigation shows the operation code-named "fast and furious" spun out of control and supervisors ignored agents who pushed to stop it.

ATF Agent John Dodson blew the whistle only after Terry was killed.

The ATF now admits two AK-47 rifles purchased by known criminals at a Phoenix gun dealer a year ago were recovered at Terry's murder scene.

So far, of the five suspected bandits, the feds have charged only one of them with Terry's killing. Manuel Osorio-Arellanes was arrested the night of the shooting and was shot at least once during the firefight. The FBI has yet to arrest the other four.

The Terry family simply wants justice to be served. Josephine believes suing the feds is the only way to force top officials from President Obama to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and on down, to be held accountable by testifying on who knew what.

In a phone interview with KGUN9 News, Josephine told us, "I want whoever decided this program and knew about it to be held responsible. I want justice for my son. He served his country. He was a marine. He was a police officer. He was a border patrol agent. My son was a true American hero."

The Terry family has hired Attorney Paul Charlton of Phoenix to represent them. Charlton is a former U.S. Attorney for Arizona.

Once the tort claim is filed, the ATF will be given six months to respond by either offering a settlement or denying liability.

Terry tells 9 On Your side the family is not seeking money. She simply wants top leaders to be held responsible for her son's murder.

When asked what type of legal punishment she'd like to see happen to those involved with overseeing the operation, Terry would only say that she wants them to admit blame.


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