Lawsuit Against Arizona-Based Border Patrol Agent Who Killed Teen Ends

Published: Tuesday, July 14, 2020 - 5:51pm
Updated: Wednesday, July 15, 2020 - 9:51am

A six-year-old civil lawsuit over the shooting death of a teenager in Mexico by a U.S Border Patrol agent in Arizona has come to an end. 

A U.S. District court judge gave plaintiffs 30 days to argue why their case against former Border Patrol Lonnie Swartz should not come to an end. That was in June. Last week, after nobody responded to the judge’s order, he dismissed the case.

In 2012, Lonnie Swartz fired 10 times from between the bollards of the border wall separating Ambos Nogales, killing Jose Antonio Elena Rodriguez. Swartz twice convinced jurors he had to defend himself.

The case mirrored a Texas case where a U.S. agent fired into Mexico, killing another teen accused of throwing rocks. That case went to the Supreme Court, which ruled the dead child’s family can’t sue the agent.

"No relief was allowed in that case based on Fourth or Fifth Amendments," said Luis Parra, the Nogales, Arizona, based attorney whom together with the ACLU sued Swartz in Arizona. The Supreme Court’s decision ended that attempt, he said.

Parra says nothing more could be done on the case once the Hernandez case was ruled on. 

"The United States Supreme Court set a binding precedent in Hernandez v. Meza on all matters including Elena Rodriguez when the five Republican Justices ruled that Border Patrol agents can not face civil liability for excessive use of force in a cross border shooting context," he said.