Ex-Long Beach school officer charged in death of Mona Rodriguez makes 1st court appearance

LONG BEACH, Calif. (KABC) -- A former Long Beach school safety officer charged with murder for fatally shooting an unarmed 18-year-old woman last month made his first court appearance Friday.

A judge ordered Eddie F. Gonzalez, 51, to remain jailed in lieu of $2 million bail while awaiting arraignment on Dec. 8.

Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón announced the second-degree murder charge against Gonzalez earlier this week, describing the death of Manuela "Mona" Rodriguez as "unfortunate" and "unnecessary."

"We must hold accountable the people we have placed in positions of trust to protect us," Gascón said. "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."

If convicted, Gonzalez faces a maximum sentence of 15 years to life.

The victim's brother said the court case would help provide some healing, but questioned why it took several weeks after the incident for the officer to face charges.

"This is a first step, of justice and hopefully our healing process," said Oscar Rodriguez. "... We waited a long time for something that was pretty obvious."

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Rodriguez was shot during an incident near Millikan High School on Sept. 27. Gonzalez was patrolling an area near the school when he noticed an altercation between Rodriguez and a teenage girl, according to authorities.

Rodriguez, the mother of a 5-month-old boy, was shot in the head by Gonzalez while she was a passenger in a moving vehicle in a parking lot near the school, authorities said. A bystander captured the deadly confrontation on video.

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Rodriguez died Oct. 5 after being on life support for about a week.

Gonzalez was terminated from his job following a 5-0 vote by the school board.

"The unanimous decision to terminate this officer's employment occurred after our internal review clearly revealed areas where this employee violated District policy, and did not meet our expectations," said the district in a statement shortly after the charge came down. "The 'Use of Force' policy used by our School Safety Office states that officers 1) shall not fire at a fleeing person, 2) shall not fire at a moving vehicle, and 3) shall not fire through a vehicle window unless circumstances clearly warrant the use of a firearm as a final means of defense. Based on our careful review, we found that our internal policy was violated."

The district continued saying, "We thank the Long Beach Police Department and the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office for their diligent work and swift action on this case. 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."



City News Service contributed to this report.
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