Why is U.S. Border Patrol Shooting Rock-Throwing Teenagers?

Sixteen-year old Jose Antonio Elena Rodriguez was walking near the U.S.-Mexico border in Nogales, Sonora, Mexico to meet his brother for a late-night snack when he was fatally shot by U.S. Border Patrol agents. An autopsy later showed the body of the teenager had been riddled with 10 bullets that had entered his back and head. Mexican officials also said it seemed there were two agents who shot at least 14 times. More than a year later, the U.S. government has yet to issue a public explanation of what happened, or to release stationary video footage, except to allege that he was part of a group throwing rocks at Border Patrol agents who were up on a hill, behind the 60-foot tall border fence.

This week, the ACLU of New Mexico Regional Center for Border Rights is joining an ACLU delegation and participating as a civil society member in a review of the U.S. record on human rights under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, in Geneva, Switzerland.

A chief concern presented to the U.N. Human Rights Committee has been the rash of lethal use-of-force incidents at the border, including the death of Elena Rodriguez. Since January 2010, at least 28 civilians have died following an encounter with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)personnel; 27 = died as the result of use of force. These deaths include numerous cases of individuals being shot in the back, across international borders, and in response to alleged rock throwing. One-third of the deaths are of U.S. citizens and one-third of minors, including three boys aged 15, 16 and 17, who were fatally shot while standing on the Mexican side of the border.

CBP’s fundamental lack of oversight, accountability and transparency has created a culture of impunity for agents who violate agency policy or their domestic and international legal obligations. In addition, Border Patrol rejected some core changes to its use-of-force policies recommended by national law-enforcement experts at the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF), including how to respond to rock and vehicular assaults, and has refused to release those recommendations publicly.

In addition to providing testimony at informal and formal briefings, we hand-delivered the Human Rights Committee a letter signed by more than 75 border-wide and national organizations and individuals that demanded, among other key items, that CBP’s use-of-force policy and practice fall in line with the highest professional law enforcement standards and comply with international human rights standards on law enforcement conduct, with particular emphasis on improving accountability and increasing transparency with the general public and directly impacted families and individuals.

It is our hope that international pressures will result in closure for the family of Elena Rodriguez and that improved use-of-force policies and training will prevent further unnecessary deaths. 

Read more about ACLU’s use-of-force recommendations for CBP,  more information about the ACLU delegation to the ICCPR review and the ACLU shadow report,  and a live-webcast of the ICCPR

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Vicki B.

Yeah right. *I* was shot in the back. How can someone be throwing rocks AT you but you shoot them in the back?
The rocks would be going in the opposite direction of you if you shot them in the back.
The guy who shot me said he was defending himself. DeFENDing himself. Against an unarmed hostage he took during a bank robbery?
The judge was insulted at his line of reasoning. He said "You want this court to believe you feared for your life from a person you took hostage during a bank robbery? How long did it take you to think of this and how stupid do you believe we are that we would think that's a plausible line of reasoning?


Why is the author of this article so blind and one sided? Why do you attempt to crucify an agent because he used appropriate force against...yes, a rock-throwing teenager. The only appropriate response to this would be to ask the author of this incredibly biased and unintelligent article to stand in front of someone (let's say...a teenager) and let him or her throw softball size rocks at their head. Maybe then your thick skull will be rattled enough to answer your own question. It's people like you that are tearing this great nation apart. If you worried and campaigned as much for your own countrymen as you do for illegal immigrants, we'd actually be doing pretty well.

Vicki B.

I think it's BS. There's no way a person could have been throwing rocks at them but then be shot in the back.
They're freakin' psychopathic trigger happy gun nuts.
I won't believe someone was throwing rocks at them but got shot in the back until they tell me how it's possible.
People who think like that do not deserve to carry a gun anywhere or any time. End of story.

Victoria Sethunya

"Mexican officials also said it seemed there were two agents who shot at least 14 times."
If the border patrol had thrown a rock and received 14 bullets or more in exchange, would the reaction by readers be the same? I believe the courts/jury will decide.
I believe there is a bias indeed in terms of people who die anonymously and get buried anonymously at the US/Mexico border, but this stone thrower is lucky because we know how he died.
Each time a person is killed, it seems to me legitimate to ask why regardless of whom the diseased is. That is why in my view, it s therefore necessary to find out how and why this boy was shot.


Why are teenagers throwing rocks at law enforcement in the first place. When the office is on the U.S. side why are they throwing anything at the office in the first place?


I don't care why they're throwing rocks at law enforcement and I don't say that lightly because I know people who WORK in law enforcement.
Until someone explains to me how facing someone to throw rocks at them causes you to be shot in the back repeatedly, I'll stay unsatisfied with the answer.
It makes it look like they waited until the person turned around and ran away instead of doing it as an immediate response.


Those rock throwing wetbacks should be blown up by grenades Those dirty sub-Hunan trash should be rounded up , taken out in the desert let go and hunted down by savage guard dogs and tore apart and left for the vultures. To solve the police profiling kick those non white , welfare sucking cocksuckers out of the US. I killed over my share gooks in nam in two tours, I feel guilty for not going back on third tour kill some more my buds that didn't.

from Richard, V...

People like Anonymous post #7 are the reason we should NEVer again have Conscripted Armies, Lottery picks or unwanted Draft Inductions into the military services.
I served two tours in Nam also, and saw atrocities on BOTH sides, not to mention the fact that what business we had there sticking our noses into a civil war was and still is anybody's guess. If we'd never been there in the first place, I can guarantee the "gooks" never would have had such a clear shot at us - and certainly not at me.
The Army makes it brain-bendingly obvious when you're supposed to use force in a situation and the Geneva Contract, while DIFFIcult to at times imPOSSIBLE to follow during Vietnam, serves at the very least as a guideline to follow - almost certainly because somebody intuited the existence of people like Anonymous #7 and wanted to curb the ravenous appetite for war that people can fall victim to when thrown into the bush for months without seeing much of civilization.
The three good friends I lost to Nixon's prolonged war never thought that way. They were obviously willing to do what at the time they thought was right, but they retained the good characters they came to Vietnam with right up to the end.
If we continue to want more wars without thinking about the people who gave their all to previous conflicts, then they died in vain. I cannot in good conscience let that happen to them or their families.

War is NOT peace. Too many people believe it is but it doesn't create peace, it grows hostilities between nations that keep them in everlasting cycles of violence - and, worst of all, creates new dead warriors and grieving families.


This shit is stupid.


There is a law that says that you can't hurt somebody who hurt you if the threat has past. Obviously, that doesn't apply to Mexicans.


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