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A California teenager is brain dead and on life support after she was shot by a school security officer, her family says, and they want the officer to be held accountable.
“I want justice for my little girl, my baby mom, the love of my life,” Rodriguez’s boyfriend, Rafeul Chowdhury, said at a news conference Wednesday.
Mona Rodriguez, 18, was shot Monday afternoon while she was in a vehicle near Millikan High School in Long Beach. Police claim that she was shot in the upper part of her body. Her family insists that she was shot in the head.
Shortly after 3 p.m. That day, an anonymous Long Beach Unified School District officer was driving in the area when he encountered a physical dispute between Rodriguez and a 15-year-old girl who was walking from school. Rodríguez is not currently a student at Millikan, authorities said.
The fight reportedly started when Rodriguez got out of a gray sedan next to a nearby mall and confronted the younger girl, according to a student who witnessed the incident. It was then that the officer, whom Long Beach school officials said in a statement that he was “conducting a safe passage for students” leaving the Millikan campus, appeared on the scene. The officer reportedly threatened to pepper spray the two, who then stopped fighting and walked away, according to Chowdhury. But when Rodriguez got back to the car, things took a sudden turn.
Posted video of the incident shows the officer approaching the passenger side door of the gray sedan once the fight is over. As the car begins to pull away, the officer appears to fire two shots at the fleeing vehicle. Rodriguez was sitting in the front passenger seat, police said.
“Shit!” a passerby screams.
“While the motive for the assault remains under investigation, detectives believe that the suspect and the victim know each other, and that the 18-year-old suspect initiated the assault,” the Long Beach Police Department said in a statement. provided to The Beast daily.
Luis Carrillo, a lawyer representing the Rodríguez family, said the focus should be on the police officer who shot the 18-year-old while she was walking away from her.
“The first priority is to arrest the guy and get him off the street,” Carrillo told The Daily Beast. “He has no right to wear a badge or carry a weapon.”
Carrillo said he sent a letter to the California attorney general to investigate the shooting “because we believe he should be arrested for murder or manslaughter.”
“This officer had no justification for using deadly force against Ms. Rodríguez because Ms. Rodríguez did not pose an imminent threat to the officer when the officer shot her,” the letter reads, a copy of which Carrillo gave to The Daily Beast. . “The actions of this officer constitute a serious violation of state and federal constitutional rights.”
The hospital plans to disconnect Rodriguez from life support Thursday afternoon, Carrillo said. But while doctors say Rodriguez shows no signs of brain activity, her family doesn’t want the hospital to turn off the machines that keep her alive. A cousin told the Long Beach Post that Rodriguez, her boyfriend, and her 5-month-old son were in the process of moving to Kansas so the boy could grow up in a better place. “She was intelligent, beautiful, loving and anyone who knew her knew how big her heart was, how full of life she was and how much she loved her family, but above all her son, who was her whole life, pride and joy, “another one of Rodríguez’s cousins wrote on a GoFundMe page created to raise money for medical expenses.
In an open letter to parents, Long Beach Unified School District superintendent Jill Baker said Tuesday: “The opening of this school year, after a year and a half that the majority of LBUSD students are in home to school, it has been filled with many high schools and some absolute lows. One of those lows occurred yesterday afternoon when an LBUSD school safety officer discharged his work weapon while responding to an altercation at the corner of Spring Street and Palo Verde Avenue. This incident has had a huge impact on the community of our school district, and collectively we are thinking about the victim of the shooting. ”
Long Beach school security officers are armed, but they are not accredited peace officers like regular police officers. His official job description includes patrolling school sites “and adjacent areas to provide safety and security for students, staff, equipment, and property; guarantee compliance with applicable laws, codes, rules and regulations ”.
Carrillo, the lawyer for the Rodríguez family, wants the officer who allegedly shot Rodríguez to be prosecuted. The family also plans to sue the school district. The officer involved has been put on leave.