An autopsy report on the body of Jose Antonio Elena Rodriguez, 16, "raises new questions about the death of a Mexican youth shot by at least one U.S. Border Patrol officer four months ago in Nogales." The Border Patrol says he "was throwing rocks over the border fence at agents on the U.S. side," when an agent shot at him. But the autopsy suggests as many as 11 bullets that struck the boy entered from behind.

57 Responses to “Boy, 16, shot 11 times in the back at Mexico/US border fence”

  1. agry says:

     These border patrol idiots are supposed to be trained for exactly this sort of scenario… they aren’t supposed to discharge their weapons just because they are hyped up.   They are supposed to be able to assess a threat and act upon that assessment.   I am not shocked, i expect these guys to be under-trained, trigger-happy morons.  What shocks me is that my country has such low standards when putting guns into the hands of these “protectors of America”.

    • What shocks me is that my country has such low standards when putting guns into the hands of these “protectors of America”.

      You really have no idea. I have it on good authority that Border Patrol is one of the hardest of the federal posts to fill. Long hours in the brutal desert sun, living in the middle of nowhere? Sign me up! As a result, they are one of the easiest federal law enforcement jobs to get. At one time (and possibly still, although I don’t know), they were basically just taking people off the street and putting them through federal law enforcement “boot camp”.

  2. India Osaka says:

    I’ll just take some quotes from the article and repost them here:

    “‘The only way I can fathom that report is that he was lying on his face when he was hit,” said Luis Parra, an attorney representing the Elena Rodriguez family.”[...]
    “According to Nogales police, whoever was throwing rocks was flinging them over the fence, not through the 3.5 inch gaps between the metal poles. Given the arc that a rock would have to travel to pass over the fence from the street below, it would be nearly impossible for the projectile to hit someone right next to the fence, where the agent would have had to have stood to fire down at the youth through the fence’s metal bars.”

  3. grimc says:

    Pictures of the location from the Mexican side here
    There’s no way the kid was going to hit the BP agent with a rock, but the agent sure had nice elevation and cover.

  4. Peter says:

    On the other hand, if this guy was in a school, on volunteer armed guard against potential school shooters, I’m sure nothing like this could have happened, because those would be American kids and therefore not annoying or troublesome at all.

  5. duncancreamer says:

    “The current policy treats rocks as potentially lethal, and allows agents to fire at rock-throwers if they perceive a threat to their lives or the lives of others.”

    Isn’t there a nursery rhyme about throwing rocks and stones? How does it go…

    Sticks and stones can break your bones
    So I will shoot you dead.

  6. Brainspore says:

    Thought experiment: how would this have played out differently if a 16-year-old boy had been shot 11 times in the back for allegedly throwing rocks across the border from Canada?

    • Mordicai says:

       Depends; is this Canadian kid white?

    • Navin_Johnson says:

       Or if Canadian officers responded in kind to a white American boy doing the same.

    • grimc says:

      The part about the rocks would be left out, and the official statement would go something like, “We are deeply saddened that a Canadian teen was caught in the crossfire as US Border Patrol agents were attempting to apprehend members of Al Qaeda trying to enter the US from Canada.”

      *DHS funding doubled*
      *Bill Of Rights set on fire using flaming Preamble*

  7. mrtut says:

    Old-time residents of Berlin can relate.

    Not that anybody got shot for throwing stones at the wall.

    • ethicalcannibal says:

      I think it’s more disturbing that the Berlin Wall situation didn’t have anyone shot for something like this. It might be a bit Godwin-y, but it really does bring into sharp focus how far down this path the US has gone. 

      • EH says:

        It helps to employ the IDF as an R&D department.

      • Geof says:

        This looks like murder to me – even if the kid was able to throw stones at the agent, which from the evidence here seems extremely unlikely. I think the whole wall business is appalling, and comparison with the Berlin Wall is not entirely unfair. But before clicking Like, I thought I’d better check. Wikipedia, for what it’s worth, suggests you are mistaken: “30 people died as a result of shootings or fatal accidents sustained while in the vicinity of the Wall but not trying to cross it.” So yeah, not as bad as the GDR, but the parallels are disturbing enough.

        As for Godwin, I think it’s conversion from a description to a norm has given rise to an awful rule that totally disregards context, ignoring whether a comment is reasoned and relevant. And I find it interesting that it prevents comparisons to fascism but not, say, communism. It’s the online equivalent of putting your fingers in your ears and saying lalalalala.

      • DunGodwin says:

         Calling Godwin in a thread is Godwinning the thread regardless of if you were right or not.

    • timquinn says:

      This is technically as close as one can get to a Godwin without actually doing it.

  8. peregrinus says:

    Do these border patrol agents spend their off-time watching spaghetti westerns?  Twirling six-shooters?  Riding the bucking bronco in the local titty bar?  I mean, what else are you gonna do a gazillion miles from nowhere.

    There’ll be more dirt under all this. Maybe the kid saw something he shouldna.  They seem to have *sprayed* that area, pinned him down and executed him.

  9. gedsudski says:

    Not shocking at all, but sad.  The men “protecting” our borders are the same grizzly mercenary types that sign up for foreign security contracts. Reform immigration, help our neighbors to the south protect themselves against the thugs taking over their country, legalize marijuana, and take down that embarrassment of a fence!   Don’t make us pull this car over!!

  10. Bottle Imp says:

    Sometimes I worry that we find out about so many of these things that instead of working to solve any of them we either get desensitized or spend all our time hand wringing about it. I see this stuff on BB and other outlets and I think: “Man this is just going to distract people from any action about the last outrageous and inhuman thing, or allow the press to move on.”

     Much as I want to think that light is the best disinfectant, I don’t often see it doing much of anything, just showing me how shitty we are to each other when we think no one is looking. But then I think, on the balance, desensitization and hand wringing are risks worth taking if a few more people have to stand for the things they do when they abandon our common humanity.

  11. Retired Border Patrol here. There aretimes you cannot (due tomultiple fence layers, etc) get out of the way of rocks, etc.I’ve a couple friends badly wounded by rocking. One had to retire due to injuries. That said, there are people who do not know what it takes to do the job. Idiots,no. Tough people, yes. Hard job to do? Definitely. That said, things go wrong. Usually younger less experienced agents will be most likely to screw up. I’d bet on an under 3 year guy. Hope all works out for all concerned but a bad shoot is just that, a bad shoot. Ya gotta take your lumps if you screwed up.

    To those who have not actually seen the border or experienced what it can be like, maybe a road trip would be interesting to you.

    • IronEdithKidd says:

      Daily Kos has photos of the location where the boy was shot.  If that kid had Roger Clemen’s pitching arm, he still couldn’t have hit an agent on the other side.  

      Nothing is going to “work out” for the dead boy and his family.  A pox on you for defending murderers among your former colleges, and for your lack of humanity.  

    • eldritch says:

      If you can’t stand the heat, you don’t murder the cook, you get out of the kitchen.

      No one is forced to become a Border Patrol agent. There are no conscripts, there is no draft. Complaining about how the people you’ve been hired to wall off throw stones at you is like a soldier complaining that the people he’s signed on to go kill are shooting back – a hollow, selfish dose of indignation at the situation you yourself willingly went into.

      A more empathetic human might question their choice of work at some point – if not before they ever even sign up, then maybe sometime during their employment, after witnessing the sorts of problems the job attracts and creates. They might stop and wonder about why they get rocks thrown at them – is it because the people on the other side of the wall are just mindless brutish animals, ravening and rampaging troglodytes?

      Or maybe, just maybe, they’re human beings living in a hopeless situation, and they’re angry at their wealthy, affluent neighbors who refuse to help them in even the smallest of ways – who have in fact decided to actively harm them – who spend countless dollars to pen them in with the rapists and the murderers and all the other evils they’re so desperately trying to escape. Who are happy to pay them pennies to toil in their orchards and on their plantations so they don’t have to pay a living wage to their own people, and then just as happy to ship them back over the border when the harvest ends and their presence is no longer desireable.

      Maybe THAT is why the occasional rock is thrown in agonizing frustration and bitterness at the towering monument of their oppression and abandonment. They chuck a few stones at the guys in body armor carrying assault rifles patroling a million dollar concrete and metal military fortification who get paid more money than they could ever hope to earn, even picking peaches on a work visa for the same people who will gladly shoot them down like dogs for DARING to throw rocks.

    • Navin_Johnson says:

      Never been to Nogales, but have walked over into Juarez a few times. I’m still struggling to imagine how this rock situation actually plays out in reality, and in what possible situation the agents simply can’t take a few steps back as others have noted. I can say that I have years of childhood experience in rock/dirtclod fights…

      I’ve a couple friends badly wounded by rocking.

      My neck is still sore from last Slayer concert.

      • “I’ve a couple friends badly wounded by rocking.

        My neck is still sore from last Slayer concert.”

        Haha! That’s a good one! Well put,sir!

      • ohbejoyful says:

        What did you think of the part about “One had to retire due to injuries [from rocking]“?

        I think it sounds different from a few days of a sore neck after a concert.

        I appreciate the border agent’s posting with his real name and lending another layer of information to this story.  I also really doubt his “Hope all works out for all concerned” was a callous statement of defense for the shooter.

  12. agry says:

     And you are right… the death penalty should be on the table for these out of control border patrol.

  13. I wouldn’t go that far; the ones responsible for shooting the kid, maybe; but I’m sure there are SOME good border patrol folks out there.

  14. duncancreamer says:

    Who’s the “they” you refer to, in this context?

  15. Navin_Johnson says:

    Your excuses, and equivocation of rock throwing with murder (both cases) are disturbing. Both examples were most definitely “shocking” examples of unjust and extreme responses to non-life threatening situations.

  16. I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that you’re drunk.

  17. Sagodjur says:

    Um, if I have a gun and someone else is on the other side of a fence throwing rocks at me, I just have to back up out of the range of their rocks. It’s not an act of war that requires “return fire.” Or if it does warrant a response, throw rocks back for the love of science.

    No amount of “you can expect to get shot if you throw rocks at a person who has a gun” justifies the person with the gun responding with lethal force…much less 11 times in the back.

  18. Charlie Stross says:

     Please provide evidence that rocks were actually thrown?

    Please provide evidence that the CBP officers had actual reason to fear bodily harm from a kid on the other side of a fence?

    See also: Why police lie under oath (New York Times): http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/03/opinion/sunday/why-police-officers-lie-under-oath.html

  19. Brainspore says:

    “What were we supposed to do? Just WALK AWAY while there was some kid throwing rocks in the desert?”

  20. Lindsay Beyerstein says:

    The kid wasn’t even throwing rocks when he was shot. He was shot in the back, while he was lying down. Border Patrol claims he was lobbing stones clear over the fence, but the top of the fence was at least 43 feet above the kid. So, there’s no way threw the rocks while he was lying down.

    Given the holes in the Border Patrol’s story, I see no reason to assume he was throwing rocks at all.

  21. Wreckrob8 says:

    Obviously our law enforcement officers need to be trained to throw rocks if they are not to resort to guns to defuse a situation.

  22. GlyphGryph says:

     All of them, clearly.

  23. Mordicai says:

    What, you don’t think that CSBD is a hardc0re st0nec0ld killer?  The armchair tough guy act isn’t working for you?  I

    ‘m sure they can pretend to be blase about other tragedies from a distance, like an emotionally stunted internet troll, too!

  24. CSBD says:

    I will give you the benefit of being internet awesome.

  25. cegev says:

    I think what CSBD might be saying here is not an attempt to excuse the behavior, but a criticism of the system rather than the individual agent, and a criticism of people who think the agent’s behavior was “shocking.”

    When the DHS classifies rock-throwing as a potentially lethal threat that agents can respond to with lethal force, and probably doesn’t train these agents very well in defusing these situations, I do think that calling this death a “shocking” or even surprising occurrence is inappropriate. It was instead a consequence of shocking policies.

  26. Paul McGee says:

    None dare call it “bullying”

  27. Navin_Johnson says:

    Now way in hell was this kid able to throw rocks across a border to threaten these guys in any meaningful way. I don’t buy one iota of it, and for the same reasons that many have posted further down in the thread.

    Also, I think that’s too charitable. The OP was apologizing for it, and went on to reference Kent State: They were asking for it, shoulda known better etc..

  28. Brainspore says:

    Its not rocket science.

    I think a rocket scientist would take one look at that scene and say “the border patrol’s version of that story is not supported by physics.”

  29. CSBD says:

    I was not commenting on the border patrol agents filing a fictional account of what happened.

  30. Brainspore says:

    @boingboing-9dcb876a03f0d77ea3cee5c9f240c5de:disqus 
    Well, forgive me for responding to a comment that boiled down to “this is to be expected when rocks are thrown at officers” with “it appears unlikely that rocks were thrown at officers.”

  31. Boundegar says:

    Mr. Policeman said so.  Mr. Policeman is good.  How could you possibly demand more evidence, you sick sick person?

  32. Lemoutan says:

    Yes, but do you mean those whose touchy-feeliness flourishes in that environment, or the agents provocateur who join it to help better it from within?

  33. The good ones? Like police, they’ll be the ones with empathy and social/cultural awareness. The hired thugs will always be hired thugs.

  34. Lemoutan says:

    I concede there are more choices than those I presented, but aren’t such organisations (basically, those that come with weapons and uniforms) statistically less likely to attract – or ‘grow’ – those you characterise as ‘good’? And yes, you can get some real control-freaks in the so-called caring professions too, but (ellipsis).

  35. Totally! But it’s a self-perpetuating problem.

    If the police hired social workers that were able to handle confrontation, rather than soldiers with a power complex – they might be able to perform their advertised duty and make society more pleasurable, rather than just cracking skulls.

    I actually think that police work is extremely complex – the problem is they hire very simple people to do it.

    (I’m painting with very broad brushes here of course. I, like most people, have encountered good police officers – but I’m still not on board with the current approach they take at policing society, which is reactionary and of pretty limited use IMO)

  36. Navin_Johnson says:

    Clearly, since there’s no alternative between standing there motionless and being hit by a rock vs. pulling out your gun and shooting.

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