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Tag: rocks

Border Patrol Agent Charged in Fatal Shooting of Teen in Mexico Testifies

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

A Border Patrol agent on trial in the 2012 fatal shooting of a teenager across the Mexican border testified Monday that he shot through a fence in Nogales because he was protecting himself and his fellow law enforcement officers.

Lonnie Swartz, who is charged with second-degree murder in the death of 16-year-old Elena Rodriguez, testified Monday that he opened fire after a group of rock-throwers from Mexico struck a fellow agent, Tucson.com reports.

Prosecutors said Swartz fired 16 shots, striking the teenager 10 times, including eight times in the back and twice in the head.

Swartz testified for more than two hours, telling the jury that he heard rocks striking the fence and that a fellow agent had been injured. He added that an alleged drug smuggler, whom the rock-throwers were said to be protecting, had a large knife in his pocket.

“I was scared, scared to be hit by a rock, (scared) for my partner,” Swartz said. “I had to act quickly. I only had seconds to stop the threat.”

But the fellow agent testified earlier that he was not injured and that a rock rolled onto his foot.

New York Times Editorial: More Accountability Needed for Border Patrol

border patrol 3By Editorial Board
New York Times

José Antonio Elena Rodríguez was 16 when he was gunned down on a street in Nogales, Mexico, in October 2012. He was shot several times in the back by a United States Border Patrol agent, firing through the fence from Nogales, Ariz. The boy was unarmed; his family said he had been walking home from a basketball game.

The Border Patrol has insisted that the agent was defending himself from rock-throwers on the Mexican side. But a federal grand jury on Wednesday charged the agent with second-degree murder. The indictment lends credence to what José Antonio’s family and activists on both sides of the border have long insisted: that this was another senseless killing by a member of an agency notorious for the reckless use of deadly force.

The agent’s union has asked the public to withhold judgment, a fair request. But it is fair, too, for others to demand openness and accountability from the Border Patrol in this and other cross-border shootings of unarmed civilians, in which basic information and answers have been sorely lacking.

In José Antonio’s case, the agent’s claim of self-defense would seem implausible to anyone who visits the spot in hilly Nogales where the teenager fell. It is hard to imagine him throwing anything across the road, up a 25-foot embankment and then over the fence and hitting, much less hurting, anybody. A major leaguer might be able to hurl a baseball that far, but a 16-year-old boy with a dangerous rock? No.

There are a number of other cases where border agents were said to have taken dubious and lethal action. A critical 2013 report by the Police Executive Research Forum, a law enforcement policy group, seriously questioned the Border Patrol’s policies on deadly force — it found that agents would deliberately stand in the way of fleeing cars, to justify shooting at them.

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