Friday, September 25, 2015

Border Patrol Agent Charged with Second Degree Murder In 2012 Shooting Death of Mexican Teen

Posted By on Fri, Sep 25, 2015 at 8:00 AM

click to enlarge Area in Nogales, Sonora where José Antonio Elena Rodriguez was shot. - MARIA INÉS TARACENA
  • Maria Inés Taracena
  • Area in Nogales, Sonora where José Antonio Elena Rodriguez was shot.

Border Patrol agent Lonnie Swartz has been charged with second degree murder in the 2012 Nogales border shooting 16-year-old José Antonio Elena Rodríguez. 

Witnesses of the shooting say Elena Rodriguez was walking home on the Sonora side of the fence, when he was struck by at least eight bullets from the Arizona side. Border Patrol agents allege someone threw rocks at them, which triggered the shooting. 

Here's part of a write up by the Huffington Post's Roque Planas:
The killing of 16-year-old José Antonio Elena Rodríguez sparked an outcry on the Mexican side of the border in the city of Nogales and cast a spotlight on the Border Patrol’s guidelines for using lethal force.

"The Elena Rodriguez Family is grateful to the DOJ (Department of Justice) for this first step in the pursuit of justice, and remain steadfast in their resolve to seek full transparency from the U.S. Border Patrol on behalf of Jose Antonio," Luis Parra, an attorney for Elena Rodríguez's mother, told The Associated Press.

Swartz’s attorney, Sean Chapman, said he has yet to see the indictment.

“He’s going to plead not guilty and fight the charges, but I really can’t comment beyond that,” Chapman told The Huffington Post.

Lee Gelernt, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union who represents Elena Rodríguez’s mother in a separate civil lawsuit, described the indictment as unprecedented.

“We believe it was justified and that it took too long,” Gelernt told HuffPost. “As far as we know, this is the first time there’s been an indictment in a cross-border shooting, so it’s a big deal … It sends an enormous message to the Border Patrol going forward that they cannot engage in these types of actions.”

“But it also has tremendous importance for the family,” Gelernt added. “They’ve been going against this faceless entity in the United States, not knowing if anyone is taking their claims seriously.”

A spokesman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the Border Patrol’s parent agency, declined to discuss the charge, saying, “It would be inappropriate for CBP to comment because it is an ongoing investigation.”

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