A Border Patrol mobile surveillance tower near Nogales, Ariz. (CBP photo)

Border Patrol Agent Acquitted in 2012 Shooting Death of Teen

A U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agent has been found not guilty of involuntary manslaughter in the 2012 shooting death of a 16-year-old Mexican national through the border fence. The teen, José Antonio Elena Rodríguez, was throwing rocks at Border Patrol agents at the border near Nogales, Ariz., with a group of other people when Agent Lonnie Swartz fired 16 rounds in 34 seconds, striking the boy eight times in the back and twice in the head.

“My client is very relieved. He has had to live with the burden of this case hanging over his head for years. He is glad that it is finally over,” Swartz’s attorney, Sean Chapman, told the Associated Press.

Related: Border Patrol Use of Force Policy Scrutinized

One demonstrator was reportedly arrested outside the Tucson, Ariz., courthouse. It is unclear if Swartz, who has been on administrative leave, will return to the Border Patrol.

Thrown rocks pose a danger to Border Patrol agents. Last year, a CBP officer was seriously injured when a softball-sized rock struck his chest, forcing his vehicle to turn over. 

June: Border Patrol Agent Assaulted with Rocks During Attempted Drug Smuggling

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Multimedia journalist James Cullum has reported for over a decade to newspapers, magazines and websites in the D.C. metro area. He excels at finding order in chaotic environments, from slave liberations in South Sudan to the halls of the power in Washington, D.C.

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