Fatal Shooting of Woman by LBUSD Safety Officer Being Investigated

Crime scene investigation, police do not cross, yellow boundary tape

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LONG BEACH (CNS) - The investigation was continuing today into the fatal shooting of a young woman by a Long Beach Unified School District safety officer.

Mona Rodriguez, 18, was shot Sept. 27 in the area of Spring Street and Palo Verde Avenue, near Millikan High School, and was placed on life support until Tuesday, when her family's lawyer said organs were donated that would save the lives of five people.

On Wednesday afternoon, the school district announced that Eddie Gonzalez, the officer who shot her, had violated district policies on use of force and was fired.

“After our internal review, we clearly saw areas where the employee violated district policy and did not meet our standards and expectations,'' LBUSD Superintendent Jill Baker told reporters. “We believe the decision to terminate this officer's employment is warranted, justified and quite frankly, the right thing to do.

“The use-of-force policy used by our school safety office states officers shall not fire at a fleeing person, shall not fire at a moving vehicle and shall not fire through a vehicle window unless circumstances clearly warrant the use of a firearm as a final means of defense. Again, based on our review, we believe our internal policy was violated.''

On Thursday morning, the Long Beach Police Department said their investigation was classified as a homicide investigation because Rodriguez had been pronounced dead.

“In light of this news, detectives are now investigating this matter as a homicide,'' police said in a statement.

A police spokesperson said no arrests have been made.

“The LBPD is conducting a criminal investigation of this incident and is sharing this information with the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office for their independent review,'' the police statement said. “Homicide detectives are in regular communication with the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office and are providing evidence from the ongoing investigation to them for filing consideration.''

Long Beach police earlier said they went to the area near Millikan High School on Sept. 27 in response to a reported shooting, and officers found Rodriguez inside a car with at least one gunshot wound.

According to police, Gonzalez was driving in the area near Millikan High School 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 Rodriguez inside, police said.

Video of the shooting posted online appeared to show the officer firing at least two shots through a passenger-side window into the car.

Rodriguez, mother of a 5-month-old son, had been on life support since she was taken to Long Beach Memorial Medical Center.

According to family attorney Luis Carrillo, Rodriguez's heart, lungs, liver and both kidneys were harvested Tuesday at the hospital. Doctors and nurses at the hospital gave Rodriguez a hero's celebration in the hallways as she was taken to the operating room while her favorite song, “Letter To My Son,'' by Skeezy played, Carrillo said in a statement.

Rodriguez stopped breathing at 5:14 p.m. Tuesday after her organs were removed, according to Carrillo.

Her family members and boyfriend have repeatedly asked for Gonzalez's arrest and prosecution.

A GoFundMe page was established by the family to assist with funeral costs. The page states that Rodriguez is survived by her mother, four brothers and a sister.

The page, which had raised more than $32,000 as of Thursday morning, can be found at: gofundme.com/f/mh5ttv-help-the-rodriguez-family

Anyone with any information on the shooting was urged to call LBPD Homicide Detectives Ethan Shear or Jose Rodriguez at 562-570-7244. Anonymous tips may be submitted through Crime Stoppers by calling 800-222-TIPS.

Copyright 2021, City News Service, Inc.

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