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New details in border patrol shooter’s privacy suit

June 24, 2010 - 11:30 am

Former San Diego-area border patrol agent Arturo Lorenzo’s privacy lawsuit against the government, which CityBeat reported on last September, is still alive and kicking, despite the dismissal of most of his claims last February. And there are some new details.

Lorenzo sued the government late last year, alleging his privacy was violated after a border surveillance video—showing him shooting and killing a Mexican man who’d  picked up a rock—was leaked to The San Diego Union-Tribune. Most of those claims were dismissed because a judge said the incident was public and newsworthy, undercutting most of his rights to privacy.

Lawyers for Lorenzo filed a request to amend their complaint in federal court in San Diego last week, removing the claims the judge had already said were bogus and adding negligence in their place. His claims for emotional distress and violations of the Federal Privacy Act will stay, too.

But, what’s more interesting is a document Lorenzo’s attorneys jointly filed with the government outlining their plans for discovery over the next year. In it, Lorenzo’s attorneys say they want the court to let them interview under oath several border patrol agents who may have investigated or have knowledge of at least two separate assassination plots against Lorenzo. If those bear out, that means the death threats mentioned in earlier court documents may have been more serious than anyone was letting on.

A key part of Lorenzo’s case will probably be figuring exactly who leaked the video to the Union-Tribune and under what circumstances, but it’s not yet clear how aggressively Lorenzo’s attorneys will go after the newspaper if they can’t figure that out from their interviews with witnesses within Customs and Border Patrol. The newspaper isn’t mentioned in the discovery plan, but it does make note of third-party subpoenas that might be directed their way if all else fails.

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