The families of two U.S. Border Patrol agents killed in a 1998 shootout will be allowed to pursue claims that the city of Harlingen, Texas, created a danger by its handling of a semi-automatic assault rifle that had been turned into the police department for destruction.

U.S. District Judge Hilda Tagle of Brownsville, Texas, March 31 denied the city’s motion to dismiss the novel “state-created danger” claim filed by the families of Ricardo Salinas and Susan Rodriguez in separate suits. Tagle also allowed the plaintiffs’ Texas Tort Claims Act cause of action to proceed, finding that they stated a viable claim based on police officials’ alleged negligent storage of the weapon and their alleged negligent entrustment of the firearm to a detective, R.D. Moore.

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