Mona Rodriguez death: Long Beach school cop who shot young mom charged with murder
LOS ANGELES - Former Long Beach school resource officer Eddie Gonzalez was arrested on a murder charge Wednesday in the fatal shooting of 18-year-old Mona Rodriguez, Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón announced.
"It's an unfortunate, unnecessary death that left a 6-month-old without a mother, a family without a daughter, and clearly a tremendous loss to our entire community," Gascón told reporters Wednesday while announcing the charges.
"We must hold accountable the people we have placed in positions of trust to protect us," Gascón later wrote in a press release. "That is especially true for the armed personnel we traditionally have relied upon to guard our children on their way to and from and at school."
Gonzalez, 51, was fired by the Long Beach Unified School District roughly a week after the shooting. He is currently being held in lieu of $2 million bail. His arraignment, which was initially scheduled for Friday, was postponed until Dec. 8.
Eddie Gonzalez. (FOX 11)
It was not immediately clear if Gonzalez had a lawyer to provide a statement on his behalf.
In early October, the Long Beach Police Department said that detectives were investigating the case as a homicide and the DA's office also opened an investigation into the case.
Rodriguez was shot in the head by Gonzalez on Sept. 27 while inside a car that was attempting to flee the scene of an earlier altercation near Millikan High School. She was declared brain dead and taken off life support on Tuesday, Oct. 5.
Her family's lawyer said her organs were donated, saving the lives of five people.
According to the school district, Gonzalez was responding to an alleged physical fight between Rodriguez and a 15-year-old girl. When Rodriguez, a man and a boy tried to leave the fight scene in a gray car, the school resource officer opened fire, hitting Rodriguez, Long Beach police said.
Rodriguez was sitting in the front passenger seat when she was shot, police said.
Video of the shooting posted online appears to show the officer firing at least two shots at the car.
Long Beach Police Chief Robert Luna told reporters Wednesday the highly publicized shooting "really impacted our community heavily."
"So this is just a step in trying to bring some closure to this very unfortunate and impactful incident, not only to our city, but to the family, the Rodriguez family," he said.
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Rodriguez's family members and their attorneys held a news conference of their own later Wednesday afternoon, following Gascón's announcement.
"I don’t understand how it’s okay for an officer, or a cop or a school safety to shoot while there [were] little kids there as well," said Rodriguez's oldest brother, Iran Rodriguez. "What if that bullet could’ve hit them?"
"My sister was a part of me, and he took that part of me," Iran Rodriguez said.
LBUSD Superintendent Dr. Jill Baker announced the district fired the school resource officer on Wednesday, October 6. LBUSD said the officer violated the district's policies.
"We believe the decision to terminate this officer's employment is warranted, justified – and quite frankly – the right thing to do," Baker said.
Baker added that the school's use-of-force policies for its resource officers do not allow shooting at a fleeing person or moving vehicles unless circumstances "clearly warrant a use of firearm as final mean of defense."
Investigators determined Rodriguez initiated the original altercation and that she and the 15-year-old girl "are known to each other," though the motive for the altercation was unknown, according to police.
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School officials said no students were hurt in the shooting and that there was no indication any students were involved. No one from the Long Beach Police Department was involved in the shooting.
Rodriguez left behind a 6-month-old son.
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