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Murdered Border Patrol Agent's Family to Sue Feds?

By Cynthia Hsu, Esq. on July 12, 2011 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

"Operation Fast and Furious" has led to a potential "Fast and Furious" lawsuit over the death of a border patrol agent. Agent Brian Terry was murdered in Arizona by weapons involved with the "Fast and Furious program."

"Fast and Furious" is a weapons trafficking program run by the Department of Justice and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), reports Fox News.

The operation let guns be sold and transported to Mexico. Two of the assault rifles involved in Terry's murder were tracked back to "Fast and Furious."

Terry was murdered after a shootout with suspected border bandits in Rio Rico last December, reports the Arizona Daily Star.

Agents had ordered the suspected bandits to drop their weapons. The suspected bandits ignored the commands, and agents fired bean bag rounds on them. The suspected bandits retaliated with gunfire, and in the midst, Terry was killed, reports the Arizona Daily Star.

One of the suspected bandits has already been charged with Terry's murder, and there are pending charges against other suspects, the Arizona Daily Star reports.

Terry's family is contemplating civil action against the U.S. government, however, for letting the "Fast and Furious" weapons fall into the wrong hands. The family has retained a former U.S. Attorney, Paul Charlton, to analyze the facts and determine if there are any possible causes of action, reports the Arizona Daily Star.

Can Terry's family successfully sue the U.S. government for the weapons trafficking program that has ended in tragedy? They could. There is precedence in previous cases where the FBI was successfully sued for helping informants evade custody before they committed murder, reports Fox News.

Under the Federal Tort Claims Act, government agencies may be sued for torts in a similar way that one would sue a private company or individual, if it's shown the government agents/employees acted negligently. However, there are many exceptions to the Federal Tort Claims Act.

As a former U.S. Attorney, however, Charlton should be readily equipped to determine if any "Fast and Furious" lawsuit can proceed. And, whether or not the family of Brian Terry, murdered at the hands of weapons the U.S. government was tracking, will get any justice over the tragic death.

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