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Border patrol agent faces charges in choking incident

April 16, 2012 |  4:54 pm

A U.S. Border Patrol agent faces civil rights charges for allegedly choking and kneeing on an illegal immigrant during an incident last July, according to a federal grand jury indictment unsealed on Monday.

The immigrant suffered an injury during the confrontation with agent Luis E. Fonseca, 32, a five-year veteran who patrolled the Tijuana-San Diego border. Fonseca had no previous disciplinary record and has been suspended with no pay, according to border patrol officials. There were no further details provided about the confrontation.

Fonseca, who was arrested Friday, was charged with deprivation of rights under color of law, a civil rights statutue that in this case carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. Bail was set at $25,000.

“People detained at the border should be treated with human dignity and respect by federal agents,” Laura Duffy, the U.S. attorney for San Diego, said in a prepared statement. “It is important for the public to know that the Department of Justice takes alleged civil rights violations seriously. We have processes in place to investigate and will take action where appropriate to protect those rights.”

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-- Richard Marosi, in San Diego

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