MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - The family of a Mexican teen shot dead when the U.S. Border Patrol opened fire on a group of rock throwers in Mexico last week is planning to bring a lawsuit alleging excessive use of force, Mexican authorities said on Monday.
The Border Patrol said an agent in Nogales, Arizona, opened fire across the border into Mexico late last Wednesday night. Mexican authorities said 16-year-old Jose Antonio Elena Rodriguez was shot dead in the incident.
A lawyer for Mexico’s Public Ministry in Nogales said attorneys for Elena Rodriguez’ family would lodge a civil suit against the Border Patrol in the United States seeking unspecified damages for excessive use of force with fatal consequences.
“They are not specifying an amount, but it will be based on the boy’s age ... and the earnings he will not receive,” Manuel Iniguez Lopez told Reuters. He gave no indication of when the lawsuit would be filed.
Iniguez said the legal action would also push for punishment for the Border Patrol agent or agents responsible for the death of Elena Rodriguez, who was shot seven times in the back.
The incident began shortly before midnight on Wednesday when Border Patrol agents responded to reports of two suspected smugglers in Nogales and watched as they dropped drugs on the Arizona side of the border.
The smugglers then fled back across the border into Mexico and “began assaulting the agents with rocks,” the Border Patrol said in a written statement. An unnamed agent opened fire after the suspects refused orders to stop, the patrol said.
The Border Patrol on Monday declined to comment, saying the agency did not have anything to add to the original statement it made last week.
Manuel Johnson, a spokesman in Phoenix for the FBI - which is investigating the shooting - declined to comment, saying the probe is on-going. Calls to two attorneys representing the Elena Rodriguez family in the United States were not immediately returned on Monday.
Elena Rodriguez was the second Mexican teenager shot dead by the Border Patrol in the Mexican border city in less than two years. In January 2011, an agent fired into Mexico, killing 17-year-old Ramses Barron of Nogales.
News pictures taken shortly after the shooting showed Elena Rodriguez’ apparently lifeless body lying face down on the sidewalk a few yards south of the border fence, which consists of parallel steel barriers.
The shooting brought sharp criticism from Mexico’s Foreign Ministry, which said the initial report “creates serious, new doubts about the use of lethal force by U.S. Border Patrol agents, something that both the Mexican government and society strongly deplore and condemn.
“It is imperative that the relevant U.S. authorities proceed with a timely and transparent investigation, and take it to its ultimate consequences,” the ministry said in a statement.
The teenager’s shooting came more than a week after a Border Patrol agent was shot and killed near the U.S.-Mexico border in an apparent friendly fire incident.
Nicholas Ivie, 30, was responding to a tripped sensor near Naco, Arizona, in an area well-known for smuggling activities. Another agent was shot and wounded, and a third agent was unharmed.
Additional reporting by David Schwartz in Phoenix; editing by Todd Eastham; Writing by Tim Gaynor