U.S. releases video in Border Patrol strangling case
Government officials released footage used in the case against a U.S. Border Patrol agent acquitted of charges of excessive force against an undocumented immigrant.
Fronteras Desk reported on Friday that the video, released on Thursday following a request by several media outlets, showed the July 2011 encounter between Agent Luis Fonseca and the detainee, Adolfo Ceja, at a Border Patrol station in Imperial Beach, California. Fonseca was acquitted in April 2013.
In the video, Fonseca can be seen approaching Ceja, who is leaning up against a wall. Fonseca then strikes Ceja with his knee and can be seen leaning over him with his back to the camera. Ceja later accused Fonseca of strangling him. Another agent can be seen in the video, but she does not move to interfere with Fonseca’s actions.
The footage then shows Ceja collapsing to the ground and convulsing. U-T San Diego reported that Fonseca’s attorneys argued that Ceja faked the convulsions, and that a longer version of the footage showed Ceja failing to respond to orders to remain quiet and keep his hands on the station walls, thus allowing Fonseca to use “escalating force” to get him to comply.
According to the Associated Press, testimony from an emergency medicine doctor corroborated Fonseca’s attorney’s account, suggesting Ceja feigned his collapse. Jurors later found the video did not provide conclusive evidence.
Despite the verdict, officials with the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) department said in a statement on Friday they were reviewing the footage.
“All evidence associated with this case is now being provided to a national level CBP disciplinary review board to determine if any policy violation occurred and if disciplinary action is warranted,” said Rodney Scott, deputy chief patrol agent for the San Diego sector. “Until a final determination is made, Mr. Fonseca will remain in an administrative status without law enforcement authority.”
Watch the footage released by the Border Patrol, as posted by the Associated Press on Friday, below.