A federal judge will hear arguments Thursday from both sides on why the name of a Border Patrol agent who shot and killed a Mexican teen should or shouldn’t be made public.
Araceli Rodríguez, the mother of José Antonio Elena Rodríguez, the 16-year-old fatally shot in 2010, sued the agent this summer claiming Fourth and Fifth Amendment rights were violated.
The government agreed to provide the name of the agent so the suit could go forward but only under the condition it remained sealed pending a final court ruling on whether or not the name should be confidential.
Last week, Sean Chapman, the attorney representing the agent, also filed a motion to dismiss the civil lawsuit and to seal the pleadings.
U.S. District Judge Raner Collins will hear arguments from both sides Thursday morning.
The Arizona Republic also filed a motion Tuesday to intervene to unseal the name of the agent and pleadings, court documents show.
“It’s yet another version of the same old story,” said James Lyall, an attorney with the Arizona Civil Liberties Union of Arizona based in Tucson.
“An agency that tries to resist transparency and accountability even in a situation where the courts and public expects this kind of information to be made public,” he said.
Attorneys with the ACLU are part of a group of lawyers representing the teen’s family.
The lawyers argued in a response filed Monday that the defendant has not provided any evidence showing that serious threats would materialize.
They added that the agent has not cited a single case in which a law enforcement defendant in a civil action has been allowed to seal his or her identity and that they are not aware of such case.
For the most part, the Border Patrol does not release the name of agents involved in fatal shootings. In some cases the names have been made public by local law enforcement agencies. In others, it’s not until the family files a civil suit that the name is known.
But the attorneys for the family said police departments throughout the country voluntarily release the names in police shootings, even in cases involving ongoing and potentially violent protests.
“The Border Patrol should not be permitted to operate under its own unique rules,” the filing said.
Chapman, the attorney representing the agent, said he couldn’t comment yet.
Chapman has asked that the pleadings be sealed, in addition to the agent’s name, because they contain “sensitive information.”
Elena Rodríguez was killed at about 11:30 p.m. on Oct. 10, 2012, at the corner of Calle Internacional and Calle Ingenieros in Nogales, Sonora.
The Border Patrol agent who has not been named shot through the border fence from the Arizona side of the border near the DeConcini Port of Entry.
The Border Patrol said agents were responding to rock throwers, but witnesses say Elena Rodríguez was walking down the street, about 30 feet from the cliff that holds the tall steal beams that make the border fence. An autopsy report showed Elena Rodríguez was shot more than 10 times, most of them through the back.
An FBI investigation of the shooting is ongoing.