The killing of 16-year-old José Antonio Elena Rodríguez sparked an outcry on the Mexican side of the border in the city of Nogales and cast a spotlight on the Border Patrol’s guidelines for using lethal force.
"The Elena Rodriguez Family is grateful to the DOJ (Department of Justice) for this first step in the pursuit of justice, and remain steadfast in their resolve to seek full transparency from the U.S. Border Patrol on behalf of Jose Antonio," Luis Parra, an attorney for Elena Rodríguez's mother, told The Associated Press.
Swartz’s attorney, Sean Chapman, said he has yet to see the indictment.
“He’s going to plead not guilty and fight the charges, but I really can’t comment beyond that,” Chapman told The Huffington Post.
Lee Gelernt, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union who represents Elena Rodríguez’s mother in a separate civil lawsuit, described the indictment as unprecedented.
“We believe it was justified and that it took too long,” Gelernt told HuffPost. “As far as we know, this is the first time there’s been an indictment in a cross-border shooting, so it’s a big deal … It sends an enormous message to the Border Patrol going forward that they cannot engage in these types of actions.”
“But it also has tremendous importance for the family,” Gelernt added. “They’ve been going against this faceless entity in the United States, not knowing if anyone is taking their claims seriously.”
A spokesman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the Border Patrol’s parent agency, declined to discuss the charge, saying, “It would be inappropriate for CBP to comment because it is an ongoing investigation.”