Border agent shot and killed teen because he was tired of rock throwers, prosecutor says

A federal prosecutor said Wednesday that the U.S. border patrol agent who was acquitted of murder earlier this year after he deliberately shot at a Mexican teen did so because he was frustrated with people throwing rocks across the southern border, The Associated Press reported.

According to the AP, the second trial for the 2012 slaying began Wednesday. Border agent Lonnie Swartz was acquitted of murder earlier this year in Arizona in the 2012 shooting death of 16-year-old José Antonio Elena Rodríguez, who was shot multiple times in the back.

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The outlet reported that Assistant U.S. Attorney Wallace Kleindienst, in his opening statement at the trial, said Swartz fatally shot the teen after Elena Rodríguez and others threw rocks at agents who were pursuing drug smugglers. Swartz faces charges of manslaughter and involuntary manslaughter in the death of Elena Rodríguez.

Kleindienst said other agents retreated from the scene at the time, but alleged that Swartz had been involved in other incidents of rock-throwing in the past and had grown tired of the tactic used to distract agents from smugglers.

“There is no justification for what he did when took the life José Elena Rodríguez,” Kleindienst said.

Defense attorney Sean Chapman said at the trial that Swartz was right to use lethal force at the time, as he and other border agents faced serious danger, adding that the agents could have been injured or even killed by the flying rocks.

Chapman went on to accuse Rodríguez of helping the smugglers and endangering the lives of agents and police on the scene. 

“This was a smuggling operation. That’s what this case is about,” he said.

Swartz also faces a civil lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of Rodríguez's mother.