The Douglas Dispatch has a story about local rancher Roger Barnett, who was sued for threatening a hunting party of Latinos with a rifle in 2004. Here are excerpts from the newspaper article:
The jury assessed a total of $210,000 in damages, but found Barnett only partially to blame for the incident. As a result, he will have to pay approximately $98,000 to principal plaintiff Ronald Morales, his father, and three girls.
Speaking after the verdict, Morales said he felt justice had been served.
“We came to court and spoke the truth, and the jury heard that truth,” he said. “Hopefully this sends a message that you can’t point a gun at little kids – or anybody for that matter – and then threaten to shoot them.”
Morales sued Barnett after the rancher confronted Morales’ hunting party on Oct. 30, 2004, and accused the group of trespassing on his property outside Douglas.
During the incident, Barnett took out an AR-15 assault rifle from his pickup and pointed it toward the group, which included Morales’ father, Arturo Morales; his daughters, Angelique and Venese Morales; and the girls’ friend, Emma English.
The hunters, all of whom are Americans of Mexican decent, said Barnett insulted them with racial slurs and threatened to shoot them – charges Barnett denied. Ronald Morales said he tried to get the county attorney to press criminal charges against Barnett, but was told no jury would convict him.
Morales’ attorney, Jesus Romo Vejar, said he hoped the local prosecutor would now reconsider filing criminal charges against Barnett, and he hoped others who had had problems with the rancher also would be encouraged to file civil claims.
Barnett estimates he has detained and turned over to the Border Patrol between 10,000 and 12,000 illegal immigrants during the past decade.
The five members of Morales party sued Barnett for assault, false imprisonment, negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The jury found in favor of all five of the plaintiffs on the claims, but split responsibility between Roger Barnett, Ronald Morales and Arturo Morales.