The brothers of an 18-year-old woman who was shot in the head by a Long Beach Unified School District safety officer joined the family’s attorneys in calling on Los Angeles County’s top prosecutor to file a criminal case against the officer.
“We’re here today because we want justice for my sister. We want the killer to go to jail. We want a prosecution to occur,” Manuela “Mona” Rodriguez’s oldest brother, Iran Rodriguez, told reporters outside District Attorney George Gascón’s downtown Los Angeles office. “And we want my sister to rest in peace knowing that her killer is behind bars.”
Another of the woman’s brothers, Oscar Rodriguez, said his sister — whose organs are set to be harvested Tuesday — is “going to give life to about eight people, I believe, another chance, another family is going to get another fighting chance, a chance that we didn’t get.”
The young woman, who is the mother of a 5-month-old son, was in the front passenger seat of a car that was being driven away from an altercation when she was shot shortly after 3 p.m. Sept. 27 in the area of Spring Street and Palo Verde Avenue, near Millikan High School.
Long Beach police said they responded to the scene in response to a reported shooting, and officers found the woman with at least one gunshot wound.
The school safety officer, who has subsequently been identified as Eddie Gonzalez, has been placed on leave.
According to police, the school safety officer was driving in the area when he observed Rodriguez involved in an altercation with a 15-year-old girl in the street. Investigators determined that a 20-year-old man and a 16-year-old boy were also involved in the dispute.
When Rodriguez, the man and the boy attempted to leave the scene in a vehicle, the school safety officer approached the car and fired into the vehicle as the driver was pulling away, striking her inside.
Video of the shooting posted online appears to show the officer firing at least two shots at the car.
Millikan High School confirmed in a statement that no students were injured in the shooting.
Investigators determined that Rodriguez initiated the original altercation and that she and the 15-year-old girl knew one another, though the motive for the incident was unknown, police said.
Long Beach police and the District Attorney’s Office are investigating the shooting.
There was no immediate response from the District Attorney’s Office regarding the family’s call for the officer to be prosecuted.
In a letter sent to the county’s top prosecutor, an attorney for the woman’s family wrote that “various videos of the incident were captured by bystanders showing Officer Gonzalez taking reckless action when he shot into a moving vehicle and gravely injured” the woman.
“This officer had no justification to use deadly force against Ms. Rodriguez because Ms. Rodriguez did not pose an imminent threat to the officer when she was shot by the officer,” attorney Luis A. Carrillo wrote in the letter to Gascón. “The actions of this officer constitute a serious violation of state and federal constitutional rights. The unjustified use of deadly force by this officer also meet the threshold for criminal charges against the officer for murder or for manslaughter.”
Carrillo told reporters it is a “shame that this criminal killer cop is not under arrest.”
“It’s a shame that anybody who would have done what he did would now be in jail but because he’s a cop, he’s not in jail,” the attorney said.
Another of the family’s lawyers, Michael Carrillo, said, “We’ve all seen the video. Where is George Gascón? Why isn’t he here on the (microphone) announcing charges against this man? … George Gascón, he talks a big game about prosecuting killer cops, but this is the example that needs to be done, this is the example that needs to be set. George Gascón, where are you? Come down from your mighty tower and show this family that justice, that justice will be done here.”
One of the woman’s brothers, Omar, said he was “heartbroken” by what had happened.
“My sister’s rights were violated,” he told reporters. “Her life was taken … I say my sister was murdered.”
Rodriguez’s family has established a GoFundMe page to assist with funeral arrangements, attorney fees and to go toward her young son. The page states that Rodriguez is also survived by her mother, four brothers and a sister.
The page had raised more than $25,000 as of early Tuesday afternoon, with a goal set to raise $50,000 at: www.gofundme.com/f/mh5ttv-help-the-rodriguez-family?utm_campaign=p_cp+share-sheet&utm_medium=copy_link_all&utm_source=customer.