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Schwartz Trial protest shuts down Granada and Congress

Posted at 5:37 PM, Nov 21, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-22 09:51:08-05

A protest following the verdict of the Lonnnie Swartz trial has led to Granada Avenue and Congress Street being closed off by the Tucson Police Department.

TPD has confirmed that the protest is peaceful but asks that the public avoid Granada Street and Congress Street. 

Protestors began gathering around 4:30 p.m. at the Tucson Federal Courthouse because Border Patrol Agent Lonnie Swartz’s was found not guilty of involuntary manslaughter for the death of 16-year-old Jose Antonio Elena Rodriguez.

Despite this decision. The jury did not rule on the stiffer charge of voluntary manslaughter.

This was Swartz's second trial.  In April a jury found him not guilty of second degree murder but could not agree on a voluntary manslaughter charge

That hung jury allowed prosecutors to put Swartz on trial again.
Swartz said when he fired sixteen times through the border fence, and killed 16 year old Jose Antonio Elena Rodriguez he was protecting himself and other officers from rocks thrown over the border fence by people on the Mexican side.

They were trying to interfere with agents trying arrest smugglers who were trying to climb over the fence and into Mexico.

Prosecutors say the threat against Swartz and other officers was not severe enough to justify deadly force and that they could have easily removed any threat by taking cover.

But defense attorneys argued rocks are enough of a danger to justify deadly force. 

Richard Boren of the Border Patrol Victims Network says prosecutors botched the case.

"They're just literally giving the green light to the Border Patrol to go ahead and keep on using lethal force in any situation they like and then get away with it," said Boren.

The Border Patrol Union paid for Swartz's defense.  

Spokesperson Art DelCueto sees the not guilty verdict as justice.

"We've always held our agents accountable when they do something wrong and in a case like this, we've always backed up our agents when we believed they did the right thing," said DelCueto.