The decision means prosecutors could seek another trial for Swartz on
the manslaughter charges in the death of Jose Antonio Elena Rodriguez,
who was fatally shot as he threw rocks at authorities during a drug
The jury deliberated about 18 hours over five
days in what human rights attorneys say was the first prosecution of a
Border Patrol agent in a fatal shooting across the border.
fired 16 shots late on Oct. 10, 2012, through a 20-foot (6-meter) fence
that sits on an embankment above Mexico's Calle Internacional, a Nogales
street lined with homes and small businesses.
acknowledged during the monthlong trial that Elena Rodriguez was lobbing
rocks across the border during a drug smuggling attempt. But they say
he did not deserve to die.
Defense attorneys countered that Swartz
was justified in using lethal force against rock-throwers and shot from
the U.S. side of the border in self-defense.
Defense attorneys Sean Chapman and Jim Calle didn't return a phone call seeking comment on the jury's decision.
Del Cueto, head of the Tucson union for Border Patrol officers, said:
"I believe that justice was properly served. The jurors took their time,
and we're pretty happy with it."
Prosecutor Elizabeth Strange said her office respects the jury's decision.
Border Patrol came under close scrutiny during the Obama administration
for allegations involving excessive use of force. Customs and Border
Protection, its parent agency, reported 55 incidents in which employees
used firearms from Oct. 1, 2011, to Sept. 30, 2012. The number of
incidents fell to 17 for the same period five years later.
Swartz initially was charged with second-degree murder in the shooting of Elena Rodriguez in Nogales, Mexico.
told the jury in his instructions that they could consider a lesser
charge of voluntary or involuntary manslaughter if they had trouble
reaching a verdict on the more serious charge.
arguments, Assistant U.S. Attorney Wallace Heath Kleindienst said Swartz
"was fed up with being rocked" after being targeted in at least six
"He was angry with those people who had been
throwing rocks against the fence," Kleindienst said. "It was not about
eliminating a threat, because there was no threat," he said. "It was
about eliminating a human being."
Defense attorney Sean Chapman argued there was "not a scintilla of evidence" that Swartz was angry or fed up.
He said Swartz shot because he was trying to protect himself and his fellow agents during a drug operation.
"From his first day in the Border Patrol, it had been ingrained in him that rocks were dangerous," Chapman said.
trial played out as President Donald Trump called for National Guard
troops to be sent to the Mexican border to free Border Patrol agents to
concentrate on stopping drugs and people from illegally entering the
Trump has made his crackdown on illegal immigration
and building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border a cornerstone of his