KGUN 9News


Surveillance disputed in cross-border shooting case

Posted at 7:10 PM, Jun 22, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-22 22:10:19-04

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Surveillance video is a key part of the case against a Border Patrol Agent charged with murder for shooting a Mexican teen through the border fence.

Now lawyers for Agent Lonnie Swartz are trying to convince a Federal judge to keep that video evidence from the eyes of a jury.

The defense' argues the video has serious technical flaws.

The family of Jose Antonio Elena Rodriguez came to court for Thursday’s hearing.

He was 16 when Agent Lonnie Swartz rushed to the edge of the border fence in Nogales, fired through the fence, and killed him.

The Mexican autopsy says Elena Rodriguez was hit ten times.

Swartz was responding to reports Border Patrol Agents, and a Nogales Police officer were in danger from rocks thrown from the Mexican side.  The rocks were to interfere with the officer and agents as they tried to stop drug smugglers from escaping over the fence to Mexico.

Surveillance video caught the incident.  Reports say it shows Swartz firing through the fence sixteen times---even stopping to reload.The video expert the defense brought in says Border Patrol saved that surveillance video on a DVR but when they saved it, they compressed it so much to save space on the hard drive, the video is low resolution and low quality---such low quality that if you blew it up so you could see it better it would be so blurry you can't really trust what you see.

Video samples shown the judge show the fence and both sides of the border where the incident happened but were not shown in a way we could not see much from the audience.  Most appear to show a very large area you would want to enlarge to see much detail.

One of the things Judge Raner Collins will have to decide is whether prosecutors will be allowed to show not just video of the through the fence shooting, but video enhanced to tell the prosecutors' take on what happened there.