PHOENIX – The family of a slain U.S. Border Patrol agent filed a $25 million wrongful death claim against the federal government on Wednesday.
The 65-page document that's a precursor to a lawsuit was filed in Phoenix and claims Brian Terry was killed because U.S. investigators allowed murder weapons into the hands of criminals, The Arizona Republic (http://bit.ly/zdkwMD) reported.
Terry died Dec. 14, 2010, when his special-operations unit got into a shootout with border bandits in a remote canyon area in southern Arizona near Rio Rico.
Investigators found two AK-47s at the scene that were traced back to a gun-smuggling probe by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Congressional investigations and Department of Justice records have since revealed that ATF agents allowed as many as 1,400 guns to be transported into Mexico and the AK-47s were purchased by a known firearms trafficker.
The so-called "gun-walking" strategy used in Operation Fast and Furious remains the subject of inquiries by Congress and the Department of Justice's inspector general.
Terry's family claims federal agents were negligent and acted "in violation of ATF's own policies and procedures."
The claim was filed on behalf of Terry's parents as well as surviving siblings. In it, family members criticize federal authorities for attempting to cover up the flawed strategy in Fast and Furious and its connection with Terry's death.
It also said that family members met last March with former U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke, who resigned amid the scandal. The claim alleges he incorrectly said that guns found at the scene were from a store in Texas and that the fatal bullet would never be found even though it was recovered during an autopsy.
An after-hours telephone message seeking comment from the U.S. attorney's office in Phoenix wasn't immediately returned Wednesday night.
Information from: The Arizona Republic, http://www.azcentral.com