Feds Go After Border Patrol Agent for Murder of Rock Throwing Illegal

A Border Patrol agent has been charged by a federal grand jury with second-degree murder in a cross-border shooting incident.USBorderPatrolPictures

Agent Lonnie Swartz is accused of killing Elena Rodriguez during a rock-throwing incident near Nogales, Arizona.

The Border Patrol has said that Elena Rodriguez was among a group of rock throwers endangering agents’ lives. His family insists the boy was walking home from a basketball game with friends and was not armed or hurling rocks.

The Border Patrol Union on Thursday criticized the indictment: “Sadly, our agents and all law enforcement officers operate in a world of political agendas and armchair quarterbacking. But our jobs are dangerous, and the decisions we make every day determine if we will return home safely to our families. We ask the public to withhold judgment about agent Swartz while the legal process unfolds.”

Swartz also faces a federal civil rights lawsuit in the death of the teen, who was in Nogales, Sonora, on Oct. 10, 2012, when Swartz fired from Nogales, Arizona.

The Mexican government said Thursday that it “welcomed” the decision to indict the agent.

Rock throwers have attacked agents more than 1,700 times since 2010, according to the agency. The Border Patrol has used deadly force more than 40 times in rock-throwing incidents, resulting in 10 deaths.

This indictment overturns previous rulings that illegals seeking to break immigration law and enter the U.S. illegally are not protected by the U.S. Constitution.

In a similar case in Texas, a federal appeals court ruled that a teen killed in Mexico by a border agent in El Paso, Texas, was not protected by the Constitution.

Border Patrol agent Jesus Mesa Jr. shot 15-year-old Sergio Adrian Hernandez Guereca in 2010 near a bridge between El Paso 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 the teen 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.

Border Patrol agents have a tremendously difficult job.  Now, thanks to federal prosecutors, these agents will have to think twice about protecting themselves from aggressive illegal border crossers and most likely make it far easier for illegals to simply cross the border with impunity.