TUCSON-Almost 3 years to the day after Border Patrol agent Lonnie Swartz shot 16-year old Jose Elena Rodriguez through the border wall, he finds himself in court facing 2nd degree murder charges. Swartz was arraigned this morning.
The Border Patrol agent says that the boy was throwing rocks to the US side from the Mexican side where Jose Elena was a resident.
Witnesses at the scene say the boy was merely walking. A KGNU investigation found that the border wall was too high for a rock to clear and that the border wall panels were too close together for a rock to bypass from such a great distance.
A similar account came from Chuck Kaufman of Tucson who was at the scene the day after the incident,
“We stood there and looked across three lanes of the street, a 30 ft. high embankment and then how ever tall the border fence is on top of that. We were just appalled. There is no way that someone on the other side of that fence could have felt any kind of physical threat.
Jose Elena’s case has been a constant source of organizing in Tucson ever since then. One interesting thing is that there’s a camera on the top of that wall that pointed in just the right direction. So if there is not video footage, if Border Patrol claims that there isn’t video footage, then that video record has been destroyed.
It’s not typical for Border Patrol agents to be indicted. It’s definitely good news that he’s been indicted and I think it’s only because of continued the public pressure that that happened.
I would like to see him be found guilty and pay the consequences whatever those are as a sign to Border Patrol that the age of impunity is over for them. Border Patrol is definitely proud of what they do. For me personally the fact that most Border Patrol agents are veterans of recent wars in the Middle East, I think it takes some very serious training and redirection to make it appropriate for them to be doing civilian law enforcement.”
An unreleased video will be used as evidence in the case. Currently Jose Elena Rodriguez’ family has filed a civil suit against Swartz for violating the boy’s rights, a move that is being challenged by Swarz and his legal team.
KGNU will continue to follow this story.