Eddie Gonzalez Is Charged in Fatal Shooting of Teenager
The former officer, Eddie Gonzalez, was charged with one count of murder after he shot Manuela Rodriguez, 18, near a high school in Long Beach, Calif., last month.,
A former California school safety officer who fatally shot an unarmed 18-year-old girl last month has been charged with murder, prosecutors said.
The former officer, Eddie F. Gonzalez, 51, was arrested on Wednesday and charged with one count of murder in the Sept. 27 shooting of Manuela Rodriguez, 18, near Millikan High School in Long Beach, the Los Angeles County district attorney, George Gascon, said in a statement on Wednesday.
Mr. Gonzalez, who was a school safety officer with the Long Beach Unified School District, was booked into the Long Beach jail on Wednesday, where he was being held on $2 million bail, according to jail records. It was not immediately clear if he had a lawyer.
“We must hold accountable the people we have placed in positions of trust to protect us,” Mr. Gascon said in the 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.”
Just after 3 p.m. on Sept. 27, Mr. Gonzalez was patrolling an area near the high school when he noticed Ms. Rodriguez and a 15-year-old girl fighting in the street, the police said. The 15-year-old, who was not identified, was a student at Millikan High School.
A lawyer for the Rodriguez family, Michael Carrillo, said Ms. Rodriguez, who was known as Mona, was not a student at the school and had a 6-month-old son.
Investigators said a 20-year-old man and a 16-year-old boy were also involved in the incident. When the man, the boy and Ms. Rodriguez tried to drive away, Mr. Gonzalez approached the vehicle to prevent them from fleeing, the police said.
Mr. Carillo said the man, Rafeul Chowdhury, was Ms. Rodriguez’s boyfriend and the father of her son, and the boy was Mr. Chowdhury’s brother.
Video showed the car almost hitting Mr. Gonzalez, who fired at least two shots as it drove off, striking Ms. Rodriguez, who was a passenger, according to the police. Mr. Carrillo said she was shot in the head.
She was taken to a hospital in critical condition and died on Oct. 6 from her injuries, according to the police department, which is still investigating the case.
At the time of the shooting, Mr. Gonzalez worked for the Long Beach Unified School District and was not employed or affiliated with the Long Beach Police Department or the City of Long Beach, the police said.
The school district serves nearly 70,000 students, from preschool to high school, in 85 public schools. On Oct. 6, the school district’s board voted unanimously to fire Mr. Gonzalez, the school district said.
At the time, the district’s schools superintendent, Jill Baker, said, “After our internal review, we clearly saw areas where the employee violated district policy and did not meet our standards and expectations.”
She added that the school district’s use-of-force policy says “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 on Wednesday, the school district said, “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.”
Mr. Carrillo said in an interview on Thursday that the charge against Mr. Gonzalez was “just a first step on the road to justice.”
He added: “This is not going to bring Mona back. The family understands that. At least it holds the officer accountable for his actions.”
At a news conference on Wednesday, Ms. Rodriguez’s brother Oscar Rodriguez said,”How would you feel if some one of your loved ones is in the hospital especially knowing that one of the people that are supposed to be taking care of our children and people is the one that did the harm.”
Mr. Gonzalez is expected to be arraigned on Friday in Los Angeles County Superior Court, Long Beach Branch.