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U.S. prosecutors investigating 2012 cross-border shooting in Nogales

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A team of U.S. investigators worked Tuesday to reconstruct the scene of an Oct. 2012 cross-border shooting that killed a Mexican teenager. A pair of assistant U.S. attorneys and Homeland Security personnel met with Mexican police in Nogales, Son., to examine the scene of the fatal shooting of 16-year-old Jose Antonio Elena Rodriguez, the Nogales International reported.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Wallace Kleindienst and Karen Rolley and other American law enforcement agents used a 3-D laser scanner at the site of the Oct. 10, 2012, shooting, the International reported.

The family of the slain teenager sued the federal government in July, arguing that the U.S. Border Patrol violated his civil rights.

The teen was walking along a street in Nogales, Son., when he was shot approximately 10 times by U.S. Border Patrol agents. Most of the bullets struck him in the back and the boy died on the sidewalk just four blocks from his home.

The agents fired through the border fence and down a steep slope, killing the teen after they and a Nogales Police Department officer were pelted with rocks when they stopped a group attempting to smuggle drugs across the fence. 

The use of force by the agency has come under increasing scrutiny.

In May, Border Patrol responded by releasing a report the agency had commissioned in 2013, which was highly critical of the use of force by agents.

The 21-page report by the Police Executive Research Forum, a nonprofit research and policy organization, cited a "lack of diligence" with regard to investigations, and a "no-harm, no-foul" approach that lead to "tacit approval of bad practices."

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The report also questioned the agency's seriousness with regard to deadly force incidents, writing: "It is not clear that CBP consistently and thoroughly reviews all use of deadly force incidents."

"Too many cases do not appear to meet the test of objective reasonableness with regard to the use of deadly force," the report said.

The release of the report was part of an effort to make the agency more transparent, said Commissioner R. Gil Kerlikowske at that time.

However, despite the increased transparency, the agency has yet to release details about the shooting of Elena Rodriguez, including the names of the agents who fired into Mexico that night. A similar investigation in Mexico has also not been released.

TucsonSentinel.com's original reporting and curation of border and immigration news is generously supported in part by a grant from the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation.

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