SAN DIEGO (CN) – In a rare legal move by the federal government, a Border Patrol agent has countersued an ex-Navy SEAL who claims he was beaten by agents and held in custody for jogging at the beach bordering the U.S.–Mexico border in an area apparently off-limits to the public.
The government’s countersuit against Alton Jones on behalf of Border Patrol Agent Jodan Johnson paints a different picture of what happened the afternoon of Aug. 9, 2014, where – after setting up umbrellas and towels for a beach day with his family at Border Field State Park – Jones went for a jog that ended in his overnight detainment.
Jones, who is represented by the San Diego chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, was never charged and received no record of his detention. He sued the Border Patrol last August, after the agency did not produce respond to a Freedom of Information Act request over his detention and the Department of Homeland Security denied his $3 million claim for damages filed last year.
Agent Johnson is being represented by the U.S. Attorney’s Office. His claims include assault, battery and negligence, and he seeks damages to cover medical costs related to injuries he says he sustained while trying to detain Jones.
According to Jones’ lawsuit, the paved road he jogged on that runs parallel to the international border had no “no trespassing” signs or anything indicating it is off limits to the public.
In Johnson’s countersuit, however, the agent says when Jones entered the park he was handed a map which directed visitors to only use officially designated trails. The paved road Jones ran on was not a designated trail on the map and was identified as a “reserve boundary,” according to Johnson.
Border Patrol agents attempted to direct Jones to the park’s designated trails more than once while he was jogging, according to Johnson. When an agent told Jones he needed to get off the paved road and onto the park’s designated trails, Jones responded by saying “What’s your fucking problem” and then continued on the same paved road.
Jones dodged agents on ATVs as well as Border Patrol vehicles before finally being blocked by agents who surrounded him. The former Navy SEAL then “assumed a fighting position” and later “charged toward Johnson with his head down, rammed into Johnson and caused himself, Johnson and other USBP agents to fall to the ground,” according to the agent’s countersuit.
Johnson was hurt in the altercation, though his countersuit does not specify what kind of injuries he sustained.
But Jones’ lawsuit mentioned comments from other agents at the scene who told him an agent broke an ankle during the altercation. Jones denies causing injury to any of the agents and claims in his own lawsuit he was “pummeled” to the ground by agents who hit him on his back and neck, kneed him in the spine and twisted his arms while falsely claiming he “just assaulted a federal agent.”
Attorneys for both parties were not immediately available to provide comment.