A former Southern California school safety officer has been charged with murder for shooting an 18-year-old in the head as she drove away from him in late September. The shooting left the teenager brain dead and on life support.
“It was an unfortunate and unnecessary death that left a six-month-old without a mother, a family without a daughter, and clearly a tremendous loss to our entire community,” Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascon said at a press conference. “This case really illustrates the importance of holding public officials accountable, especially public officials that are entrusted with the safety of our family and our kids.”
Manuela “Mona” Rodriguez, the mother of a 6-month-old son, had been involved in a fight with a 15-year-old girl and was trying to leave Millikan High School’s campus on Sept. 27. She was unarmed. Officer Eddie Gonzalez, 51, had attempted to break up the fight. After Gonzalez approached the passenger side of Rodriguez’s sedan, she drove away with two others in the car. Gonzalez shot twice.
Oscar Rodriguez, Mona’s brother, said in a statement via the family’s lawyer, “This is the beginning of justice for my mother and the Rodriguez family. It took too long to arrest the man who killed my sister.”
Three days after Rodriguez was hospitalized and doctors declared her brain dead, her family disconnected her life support. She died Oct. 6. Her family donated her heart, liver, lungs, and both kidneys, which saved five people’s lives, according to her family.
Gonzalez had only been on the job since January. Long Beach Unified School District’s safety policies disallowed officers from shooting at both moving cars and suspects on the run, despite the fact that Rodriguez appeared to be both, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Gonzalez was placed on paid leave during the investigation, though that lasted only a week. Long Beach Unified fired him early this month.
Long Beach Unified superintendent superintendent Jill Baker said at the time, “After our internal review, we clearly saw areas where the employee violated district policy and did not meet our standards and expectations. We believe the decision to terminate this officer’s employment is warranted, justified and quite frankly, the right thing to do.”