U.S. Border Patrol Agent Who Fatally Shot a Mexican Teen Has Been Charged With Second-Degree Murder

Lonnie Swartz, who fatally shot 16-year-old Jose Antonio Rodriguez in 2012, is expected to plead not guilty.

Image via U.S. Army

When U.S. Border Patrol agent Lonnie Swartz shot and killed 16-year-old Jose Antonio Elena Rodriguez through the border fence between Arizona and Mexico in October of 2012, immediate controversy once again erupted surrounding the Border Patrol's apparent misuse of force tactics. Swartz and fellow agents claimed that Elena Rodriguez was part of a group of "rock-throwers" intent on endangering the lives of multiple agents, though the teen's family maintains that he was simply walking home after attending a local basketball game.

Swartz was indicted on the charge on Wednesday, according to the Los Angeles Times. Sean Chapman, Swartz's attorney, promptly told local reporters that his client is expected to plead not guilty during an arraignment in October. The shooting took place along the Nogales, Mexico / Nogales, Arizona border, with an autopsy revealing that Elena Rodriguez ultimately suffered at least 10 gunshot wounds.

The American Civil Liberties Union argues that the Border Patrol regularly encourages a "systematic problem with use of force," eventually filing a lawsuit in Tucson on behalf of the mother of Elena Rodriguez. Though some tried to get the suit thrown out due to the teen's citizenship status, a federal judge recently ruled that the suit may proceed.

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