Federal authorities on Wednesday charged a U.S. Border Patrol agent with second-degree murder in the shooting of a 16-year-old Mexican teenager in October 2012.
The agent, identified as Lonnie Swartz, is also facing a federal civil rights lawsuit in the death of José Antonio Elena Rodríguez. Swartz fatally injured the teenager in a cross-border shooting on Oct. 10, 2012. Swartz was standing in Nogales, Ariz. Rodriguez was killed in Nogales, Mexico.
An autopsy revealed he was shot 10 times.
According to the Border Patrol, Rodriguez was among a group of rock-throwers who were said to be “endangering agents’ lives,” CBS reports. The teen’s family denied the claim, saying the boy was walking home from a basketball game with friends.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed the lawsuit in Tucson on behalf of Rodriguez’s mother, arguing that Border Patrol has a “systemic” issue with excessive force. The agency denies claims, saying rock throwers have endangered the lives of agents more than 1,700 times since 2010. Generally, CBS reports, agents are allowed to use lethal force in situations that can be “potentially deadly.”
But Rodriguez’s death is not the first that’s sparked outrage.
CBS News correspondent Anna Werner reported in August that there have been several similar controversial cases involving shootings by Border Patrol agents.
In one, in Texas, a federal appeals court ruled that a teen killed in Mexico by a border agent in El Paso was not protected by the Constitution.
In that case, U.S. Border Patrol agent, Jesus Mesa Jr., shot 15-year-old Sergio Adrian Hernandez Guereca in June 2010 near a bridge between El Paso, Texas, and Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua. Authorities said Mesa was trying to arrest immigrants who had illegally crossed into the country when rock-throwers attacked him. Mesa fired his weapon across the Rio Grande, striking Hernandez Guereca twice.
A three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals originally said Hernandez Guereca’s family could sue Mesa. But the full court overturned that ruling in April.
Luis Parra, a lawyer for Elena’s mother, told the Associated Press the Rodriguez family is “grateful to the DOJ for this first step in the pursuit of justice.”
Swartz is expected to plead not guilty in an Oct. 9 arraignment.