Elian Excessive-Force Suit Dismissed

A federal judge has thrown out a lawsuit claiming federal agents used excessive force in an armed raid to seize Elian Gonzalez (search) at the home of his Miami relatives four years ago.

An order issued Monday by U.S. District Judge Marcia Cooke (search) concluded the six agents who conducted the raid were legally immune to the lawsuit, and she found no constitutional violations.

"We're pleased with the judge's decision," said Charles Miller, a Washington spokesman with the Department of Justice.

The relatives were considering an appeal.

"We are shocked and disappointed by the court's decision," Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch (search), said in a statement Wednesday. The legal group had sued on behalf of Elian's cousin, great-uncle and great-uncle's wife. "It's a shame the Bush administration defends these unlawful acts by the Clinton administration."

Federal agents removed Elian, then 6, from the family's home before dawn in April 2000, five months after he was rescued from the Atlantic. His mother and others died trying to reach Florida by boat.

The lawsuit alleged the raid team broke down the front door unannounced, sprayed irritating gas, held people at gunpoint and shouted obscenities at unarmed relatives, supporters and news media.

A famous Associated Press photograph taken during the raid showed a frightened Elian in a closet, shrinking away from an armed marshal in SWAT clothing. The boy, now 10, was returned home to Cuba with his father after the raid.