A United States Border Patrol agent that was acquitted by a criminal court in the shooting death of a Mexican teenager learned that he was not exempt from facing civil litigation in the matter. The shooting took place while the teenager and agent were on opposite sides of the U.S.- Mexican border in Arizona.
The ruling originated from the 9th United State Circuit Court of Appeals and the dissenting judge in the 2-1 decision expressed his belief that his colleagues were ignoring all legal precedent with the decision.
The decision has paved the way for the legal allowance of Araceli Rodriguez, to file for civil damages against Border Patrol agent Lonnie Schwartz in response to the 2012 shooting of her son Jose Rodriquez.
The boy was reportedly walking along the street in Nogales, Mexico when Schwartz, while working in an official capacity with the U.S. Border Patrol, fired at Rodriquez while standing on an embankment located on the U.S. side of the border. Rodriquez was shot ten times and died as a result of the injuries.
Schwartz said his actions were in self-defense from a group of individuals that hurled rocks at him from the Mexican side of the border. Araceli Rodriquez maintains that her son was walking peacefully along his way when he was killed.
Schwartz was acquitted on charges of second-degree murder by a federal court in Tuscon, Arizona that was also unable to come to an agreement on lesser included charges of manslaughter. The case is set for retrial on October 23.
A lower court judge rejected a claim by Schwartz in the civil proceedings that he should be extended the status of qualified immunity and ruled that Rodriquez could seek civil redress for the loss of her son through the violation of his constitutional rights.
Judge Andrew Kleinfeld penned the majority decision and expressed that it was ‘inconceivable’ that any officer would take the action that Schwartz took against Rodriquez. He went on to say that Schwartz was on American soil when he fired his gun and that he is, therefore, subject to the laws of the United States. Judge Kleinfeld ended by characterizing the action taken by Schwartz as “shocking.”
A lawyer acting on behalf of Schwartz, Sean Chapman, did not provide the media with a comment. The Justice Department, who had also advised Schwartz on this matter, also gave no response to any requests for comments.