OTR Interviews

Arizona Rancher in Legal Battle After Capturing Illegal Immigrant on His Property

Ariz. rancher tells Griff Jenkins how he wound up being sued for intercepting an illegal immigrant

 

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," October 19, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: An Arizona rancher takes the border battle into his own hands. But did he go too far? Griff Jenkins takes us to the scene of the confrontation.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GRIFF JENKINS, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: In 2004, Arizona ranger Roger Barnett was here, just miles from the U.S./Mexico border, tending to his water pump, when he discovered trash that led him to a group of more than 20 illegal aliens crossing his property. What followed that day was a seven-year legal battle that ended up in the Supreme Court of the United States, with Roger liable for more than $80,000 in damages.

Now for the first time we bring our viewers here on his ranch to hear firsthand from Roger what happened that day.

Roger, it's 2004, March 7th. You are out, doing whatever you do on your ranch here. Take me back and our viewers back to the day, to what happened here, where we are and how this all unfolded.

ROGER BARNETT, ARIZONA RANCHER: OK. Back up here, a third of a mile, half a mile is a windmill. And there is water there. We were driving by to check the waters out and make sure the illegal aliens hadn't fouled them up, broke the lines, or whatever. And then we stopped up here in the wash. My dog jumps out, and I was looking at tracks and he gets on them. He's all excited and everything. Then he's -- he was coming down the ditch.

JENKINS: This is a wash here?

BARNETT: The wash, yes.

JENKINS: So the viewers understand, we are five miles give or take from the Mexican border?

BARNETT: Yes, yes, just a short ways. Anyway, I jumped on my ATV and loaded it out of the truck, got on it and started to follow the dog down the wash. Anyway, he was all excited and everything. And so I was coming on down, following him to see what he was on, which it was tracks. It was illegal aliens because there is a bunch in there.

JENKINS: And you have a frequent pattern of seeing illegal crossers come in?

BARNETT: Yes, that's correct. Yes.

JENKINS: You feel like you are on to that, the dog is signaling.

BARNETT: The dog is signaling. I am keeping up with him so he doesn't get hurt and don't get lost and everything, because they could -- whoever could be there, they could hurt the dog. I don't want my dog hurt. So I come on down here.

And right in this area here the dog went off the wash at the hill. And what he did, he went over here and he got on this little rise over here. And then right there where the rise is, he was on top of the rise, barking. There something behind there. I pulled a gun out and I started to approach.

JENKINS: You don't see anything. Have you drawn your weapon for protection.

BARNETT: For protection.

JENKINS: We are on your property.

BARNETT: That's correct. Yes.

JENKINS: OK.

BARNETT: I went up here. I come up here and he was still barking and everything. And when I come up, I could see a whole bunch of people laying in this area. Then what I did, I walked around them and everything, still holding my gun out. Never at one time I put the gun on them, aimed at them because it's dangerous. I wasn't planning on shooting anybody at that point because they didn't show that they threatened me in any way or anything, didn't have any guns or rocks in their hands or anything. Then I holstered my gun back up, put it back in my holster.

JENKINS: How many people did we see here?

BARNETT: Oh, there were 20 or better like that. And finally when I got them all counted and everything, there was a total of 26 people. And in the meantime, whenever I first encountered them, that's when I call the wife and told her I found the group. I got on the cellphone and I called border patrol and told them where I was.

JENKINS: The case against you involved mostly women. You were found liable for four claims of assault and four claims of inflicting emotional stress. That's what ultimately the Supreme Court upheld, the lower court finding against you. Did you hurt these people?

BARNETT: No.

JENKINS: What was your reaction when you were found liable for causing emotional stress if what was perceived to be assault?

BARNETT: You know, you think, what the hell shall I do next? I mean, it just -- where's the justice in this system? There isn't no justice. It just, if the government would do their job, get off their duff and get with the program, they could seal that border if they wanted to. There are agents that told me they can seal it. But the ones that are running the show -- Napolitano, she don't want it sealed.

JENKINS: The court case makes it sound as if you were a lot more aggressive than you are telling us. In fact some people have called you a pretty aggressive vigilante.

BARNETT: I am not a vigilante. This is my property. I am protecting it.

And then also, too, in this property, it belongs to the state too. The state says in the lease, you shall protect your property, keep it from getting trashed and all of that. They want it just like when you leased it. What it was like then, they want it there when you return it back to them.

(END VIDEOTAPE)