The parents of a Border Patrol agent whose shooting death revealed the botched "Fast and Furious" gun-smuggling investigation have lost a bid to revive their lawsuit that says the government should have known the methods used in the case would have created a risk to law enforcement officers.
The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals expressed sympathy to the parents of Agent Brian Terry in seeking a venue to claim that government officials acted irresponsibly. But the court still backed up a lower-court judge who dismissed the lawsuit on the grounds that there are congressionally-mandated remedies already in place for the survivors of an agent who dies in the line of duty.
Terry was mortally wounded in December 2010 in a firefight north of the Arizona-Mexico border between U.S. agents and five men who had sneaked into the country to rob marijuana smugglers. Two rifles bought by a gun-smuggling ring that was being monitored through "Fast and Furious" were found at the scene of the firefight.
Federal authorities who conducted the investigation faced tough criticism for allowing suspected straw gun buyers for a smuggling ring to walk away from gun shops in Arizona with weapons, rather than arrest them and seize the guns. Some guns purchased by the ring were later found at crime scenes in Mexico and the United States.
Some leaders at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, which conducted the investigation, were subsequently reassigned after revelations surfaced of the bungled operation. The investigation's failures were later examined in congressional hearings.
"The Terry Family is extremely disappointed in the ruling, and we'll be meeting with them to discuss our options for further review of this issue," Lincoln Combs, an attorney for Terry's parents, said in an email.
Nicholas Acedo, a lawyer representing the federal employees targeted in the lawsuit, didn't immediately return a message seeking comment Monday on the appeal court's filing.
The lawsuit alleged ATF officials and a federal prosecutor created a risk to law enforcement officers such as Terry, and that the firearms agents should have known their actions would lead to injuries and deaths to civilians and police officers in American and Mexico.
Four Mexican men were convicted of first-degree murder in Terry's death, including one man who was accused of assembling the rip-off crew. Two others remain fugitives.