U.S. Border Patrol agent Lonnie Swartz walked from an Tucson, Arizona, courtroom Wednesday after being found not guilty in the killing of a Mexican teen in 2012.
Swartz had previously beat a second-degree murder charge and this week was acquitted of involuntary manslaughter of Elena Rodriguez.
The Arizona Daily Star reports that angry protesters were waiting for Swartz outside the courthouse. (RELATED: US Border Patrol Warns Texans About Militias Stopping Migrant Caravan)
Swartz admitted to shooting at the teenager through a fence on the Nogales, Ariz. border but said he was being hit with rocks thrown by Mexicans on the other side of the border.
“My client is very relieved. He has had to live with the burden of this case hanging over his head for years. He is glad that it is finally over,” Swartz’s attorney, Sean Chapman, said in an email to The Associated Press.
“We fully respect the jury’s decision, and we thank every member of the jury for the time and attention given to this trial,” prosecutor Elizabeth Strange said in a statement. “This was a difficult case, and I commend the trial team and law enforcement officers who assisted in the prosecution.” (RELATED: Border Patrol Saves 55 Illegal Immigrants From Hot, Stuffy Trailer)
Prosecutors did not deny that Rodriguez and others were throwing rocks at Border Patrol guards while the Mexicans were assisting two smugglers get back to Mexico. In August a federal court ruled that Border Patrol agents do not have constitutional immunity with they engage in cross-border shooting resulting in injury or death.
The American Civil Liberties Union has also filed a civil rights lawsuit against Swartz.