Jurors acquitted a U.S. Border Patrol agent of charges he abused an undocumented immigrant. Luis Fonseca hugged his attorney just moments after jurors returned the verdict in San Diego Friday.
Prosecutors had charged Fonseca with a felony civil rights violation arguing the agent kneed and choked a 27-year-old immigrant the Border Patrol's Imperial Beach station in July 2011. Jurors saw a video tape of the incident, captured by a surveillance camera inside the station. Fonseca's lawyer, Stuart Adams said that video was incomplete and misleading. He also said the alleged victim faked his injuries.
During the trial, Fonseca was on unpaid administrative leave. He’s lost everything from his dignity to his house and his car, Adams said. Outside court, Adams said the verdict will help restore his client's reputation. "Clearly this is a huge step,” Adams said. “This was the block that was in the way. It's been pushed aside." He added that his client loves the Border Patrol and hopes to return to his position with the agency.
In a statement released following the verdict, U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy expressed disappointment. “We believe it is our responsibility to stand up for the civil rights of everyone and felt this was an important case to bring. The U.S. Attorney’s office will always elect to bring such cases when we believe the evidence is sufficient to do so - no matter how tough the case may be.”