With reporting from John Carlos Frey at the Investigative Fund at the Nation Institute.
Sixteen-year-old Jose Antonio Elena Rodriguez, a studious Mexican boy, dreamed of becoming a soldier to fight the violence that plagued his hometown of Nogales, Sonora.
But Jose Antonio never lived out that dream.
On October 10th of last year, on a late night walk to meet his brother Diego, the boy was shot and killed. Not by thugs or narcos, but by the U.S. Border Patrol. He was shot across an international boundary, a violation of treaties between the U.S. and Mexico.
Jose Antonio was shot ten times according to a Mexican Medical Examiner’s report obtained by Fusion’s Investigative team. The first two fatal shots were to the boy’s head and he was shot eight more times as he lay on the sidewalk.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) claimed they opened fire because people were throwing rocks from the Mexican side of border, one hitting their patrol dog. But there is no evidence that Jose Antonio was in fact throwing anything.
Fusion’s Investigative team spoke to key witnesses who say Jose Antonio was walking slowly along the sidewalk when agents opened fire.
More than a year after the killing, Jose Antonio’s family still does not know what happened that night: they don’t even know the name of the agent or agents involved in the shooting.
And Jose Antonio isn’t the only one. In a statement to Fusion, an official from the CBP says that their agency has killed six Mexican nationals within the last three years by shooting from the United States into Mexico.
While the agency has never denied their role in the shootings, this marks the first time that the agency has actually admitted that their agents were responsible.
Here’s the autopsy report obtained by Fusion’s Investigative Unit:
UPDATE: A federal district court has ruled that this case can move forward. The American Civil Liberties Union brought the case, Rodriguez v. Swartz, arguing that the U.S. Constitution applies in this case. The agent sought to have the case dismissed, but late on July 9, U.S. District Judge Raner Collins in Tucson, Arizona, denied that request.