Friday, May 10, 2013
The government has released a video used as evidence in a case of alleged excessive use of force by a U.S. Border Patrol agent.
Agent Luis Fonseca stood trial last month on charges he kneed and choked a man detained in July 2011 for attempting to illegally cross the border into the U.S. near San Diego.
Fonseca was acquitted, but KPBS and other San Diego media outlets filed a motion requesting a copy of a surveillance video used as evidence in the case. A judge ordered the government to release the video on May 9.
The footage, from a surveillance camera inside the Imperial Beach border patrol station on the night of July 26, 2011, shows Fonseca kneeing the man, Adolfo Ceja, in the ribs and then leaning over him for several seconds. Government prosecutors said Fonseca was choking Ceja though it's not clear from the video.
The video then shows Ceja collapsing to the floor and convulsing several times before getting up.
Ceja later claimed the agent had choked him, and said he told Fonseca he felt like he was having a heart attack.
Despite Fonseca’s acquittal, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection disciplinary review board is examining the evidence to determine whether Fonseca violated any agency policies.
A section of the immigration reform bill currently being debated in the U.S. Senate would tighten controls on the use of force by Border Patrol and other law enforcement officers under the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
Specifically, it would require agents to report all incidents where force is used, and establish procedures for accepting and investigating complaints, and disciplining agents who violate laws and policies related to use of force.