The mother of a Mexican teen fatally shot by U.S. Border Patrol agents in Nogales, Sonora, filed a civil-rights lawsuit Tuesday in federal court demanding a jury trial and seeking monetary damages for her son’s “senseless and unjustified” death.
“The U.S. Border Patrol agents who killed my son in a senseless act of violence are still out there, and they need to be brought to justice,” Araceli Rodriguez, who lives in Nogales, Sonora, said in a news release. “The U.S. government has not held the agents who shot my son accountable, and that is why I am bringing this lawsuit.”
Her 16-year-old son, Jose Antonio Elena Rodriguez, was walking alone along a Nogales, Sonora, street, near the border fence on Oct. 10, 2012, when he was shot from behind several times by Border Patrol agents on the U.S. side, the lawsuit says.
The Border Patrol has said the agents were defending themselves against people throwing rocks while some men were trying to smuggle drugs into the U.S.
The agency has not identified the agents involved. A spokesman for Customs and Border Protection, which oversees the Border Patrol, said it is the agency’s policy not to comment on pending litigation.
The complaint contends that neither Elena Rodriguez, nor anybody near him, posed a threat to the agents and that the agents’ actions were “unreasonable and excessive, and were unnecessary to defend against bodily injury or deadly force.”
In shooting Elena Rodriguez, the complaint claims agents violated the Fourth Amendment, which prohibits seizures with excessive and unreasonable force. The complaint also alleges agents violated the Fifth Amendment’s due-process element.
Rodriguez is being represented by several attorneys, including Nogales, Arizona, attorney Roberto C. Montiel and the American Civil Liberties Union.
“Jose Antonio’s death is unfortunately not unique,” Lee Gelernt, an attorney with the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, said in a news release. “Border Patrol is using excessive and unnecessary force against people on both sides of the border. Agents continue to violate the Constitution with impunity.”
Shootings involving Border Patrol agents have killed more than 20 people since 2010, according to a Star story published in May. Nine of those shootings happened in the Tucson Sector.