Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Cross-Border Shooting: US Border Patrol Agent Charged in Murder of Mexican Teen

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Cross-Border Shooting: US Border Patrol Agent Charged in Murder of Mexican Teen

Article excerpt

A US Border Patrol agent who shot and killed a Mexican teenager in a cross-border shooting incident has been charged with second- degree murder.

According to the Border Patrol, 16-year-old Jose Antonio Elena Roderiguez was among a group of rock-throwers in the Mexican city of Nogales on Oct. 10, 2012, when Agent Lonnie Swartz shot from the Arizona side of the border.

Jose's family, however, maintains that the boy, unarmed, was walking home from a basketball game with friends and did not throw the rocks.

Luis Parra, the attorney for the mother of Jose Antonio Elena Rodriguez, told The Associated Press that a federal grand jury indicted Mr. Swartz on Wednesday.

"The Elena Rodriguez Family is grateful to the [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," Mr. Parra said.

Swartz's attorney, Sean Chapman, told The Arizona Daily Star his client will plead not guilty at an Oct. 9 arraignment.

An autopsy revealed Elena Rodriguez had been shot about 10 times.

As The Christian Science Monitor reported at the time:

Under Border Patrol policy, bullets can be a justified response to rocks, because rocks have caused serious injuries to agents in the past. But both American civil liberties groups and Mexican authorities are drawing attention to the incident, saying it raises worrying questions not only about the Border Patrol's use of force, but also its recent surge of manpower along the border. The FBI is investigating, as are Mexican officials. At the behest of concerned members of Congress, the Office of Inspector General is already reviewing border agencies' use-of-force guidelines in connection with a different incident.Swartz is also facing a federal civil rights lawsuit in Jose's death. …

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