Phoenix • A federal judge has tossed out a lawsuit filed against federal officials connected with the botched Fast and Furious program by the parents of slain Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry.
In an eight-page ruling, U.S. District Judge David Campbell said he recognizes that Terry’s parents, Kent and Josephine, “have suffered a great loss, and that any financial remedy is likely insufficient to redress their injury.”
But Campbell pointed out that Congress approved several ways of dealing with federal agents who die in the line of duty, including the federal Public Safety Officers Benefits Act. And he said that means the only relief the family can get is what that law provides.
The attorney for the parents acknowledged that law. But he said that statute is inadequate because it provided no separate deterrence for government wrongdoing.
Campbell said that may be true. But he also said it’s legally irrelevant.
“The compensation available under the PSOBA is intended to remedy precisely the harm that plaintiffs have suffered, namely the tragic death of their son,” Campbell wrote. “It is not the proper role of this court to second-guess the remedial action established by Congress, find it insufficient, and impose an additional judicially crafted remedy.”
Robert Heyer, Terry’s cousin, said Saturday the family learned about the ruling late Friday and are “very disappointed.” But he said the issue goes beyond the question of financial compensation.
“This was the family’s effort to hold those responsible for Fast and Furious accountable,’’ Heyer said.
“Unfortunately, the judge did not look at any of the egregious behavior of the U.S. Attorney’s Office,” he said. “He merely looked at statutory procedures Congress had set up” in cases of the death of a federal agent, procedures Heyer said fail to recognize the difference between an officer killed in a motor vehicle accident and one, like Terry, shot to death because of what the family believes was negligence by federal officials.