(LOS ANGELES) — A California school safety officer has been charged with murder in the fatal shooting of an 18-year-old unarmed woman.
Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón announced the charge against former Long Beach Unified School safety officer Eddie Gonzalez, whose arraignment is scheduled for Friday at the Los Angeles County Superior Court, Long Beach Branch. The case remains under investigation by Long Beach police.
“We must hold accountable the people we have placed in positions of trust to protect us,” Gascón said in a statement. “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.”
On Sept. 27, Gonzalez was patrolling an area near Millikan High School in Long Beach when he noticed a physical altercation between the 18-year-old, Manuela Rodriguez, and a teenage girl.
Rodriguez tried to leave the scene and hopped into the rear passenger seat of a nearby car when Gonzalez allegedly fired his handgun at the vehicle and hit Rodriguez.
She was taken to a hospital, where she died Oct. 5. Rodriguez is said to have suffered brain damage before being declared brain dead and taken off life support, according to her family’s attorneys.
“Not only did he commit a horrible crime, he destroyed an entire family,” attorney Luis Carrillo said at a press conference.
Gonzalez was fired the following day by the Long Beach Board of Education for violating the district’s use-of-force policy.
According to school officials, the policy states that 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.”
In a statement, district school board officials said: “We will continue to monitor the progress of the criminal case and will defer questions on investigatory matters to law enforcement. We acknowledge the impact of this tragedy and we again extend our sincerest condolences to everyone who has been impacted, especially the family, friends and loved ones of the shooting victim, Manuela Rodriguez.”
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