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28 Oct, 2021 16:45

California ‘school safety officer’ charged with murder over shooting death of 18-year-old mother (VIDEO)

California ‘school safety officer’ charged with murder over shooting death of 18-year-old mother (VIDEO)

A Long Beach school safety officer has been charged with murder over allegedly shooting an 18-year-old student after intervening as she fought with another girl. Video of the incident shows him firing at the victim’s car.

Former Millikan High School safety officer Eddie Gonzalez has been charged with murder over the shooting of 18-year-old Manuela Rodriguez, who died after Gonzalez fired into a moving car in which she was a passenger on September 27. The charges were announced on Wednesday by the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office.

We must hold accountable the people we have placed in positions of trust to protect us,” Los Angeles district attorney George Gascon said in a statement on Wednesday, adding that this was “especially true for the armed personnel we traditionally have relied upon to guard our children on their way to and from and at school.

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After Gonzalez reportedly broke up a fight between Rodriguez and a 15-year-old fellow student, Rodriguez jumped in the car with her boyfriend and his brother and attempted to exit the scene, only for the school safety officer to fire his handgun twice into the vehicle, in violation of the district’s use-of-force policy. 

Hit in the back of the head, Rodriguez was declared brain-dead upon arrival at a nearby hospital and placed on life support. She died a week later, leaving behind a five-month-old son.

Video of the incident circulating on social media shows a uniformed Gonzalez appear to reach for the vehicle driven by Rodriguez’ boyfriend as it speeds away. He then fires twice at the fleeing car and a woman can be heard screaming.

Long Beach Unified School District employees are explicitly forbidden from shooting at moving vehicles or through windows “unless absolutely necessary,” according to the school superintendent. 

The district’s use of force policy forbids such shooting unless warranted as a “final means of defense.

Gonzalez, a former US Marine and ex-officer with the Los Alamitos and Sierra Madre police departments, was fired earlier this month following a unanimous vote by the school district’s board of directors. He had joined the school district in January. The shooting was reportedly the first by an officer in the 30-year-history of the district’s school safety program.

The 51-year-old officer’s bail has been set at $2 million. He is due to be arraigned on Friday. 

An internal review conducted by the district board confirmed Gonzalez had “clearly” violated district policies, specifically with regard to firing at a fleeing person or a moving vehicle, because the vehicle posed no threat to the officer at the time. 

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