Ex-Long Beach school officer ordered to stand trial in death of 18-year-old Mona Rodriguez

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Thursday, January 20, 2022
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A former Long Beach Unified School District safety officer has been ordered to stand trial on a murder charge stemming from the fatal shooting of an 18-year-old woman last year.

LONG BEACH, Calif. (KABC) -- A former Long Beach Unified School District safety officer has been ordered to stand trial on a murder charge stemming from the fatal shooting of an 18-year-old woman last year.

Eddie Gonzalez was fired by the district about a week after shooting Manuela "Mona" Rodriguez and was charged a month later with her killing. He has pleaded not guilty.

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.

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

In the aftermath of the shooting, Rodriguez's friends and family pointed out that she was unarmed at the time of the incident, which prompted calls for Gonzalez to be charged with murder.

Superior Court Judge Daniel J. Lowenthal on Wednesday rejected defense attorney Michael Schwartz's request to reduce the charge to manslaughter or to lower Gonzalez's $2 million bail, citing "the senselessness of this act."

Gonzalez has remained jailed since his arrest Oct. 27 by Long Beach police detectives in Orange. He is due back in a Long Beach courtroom Feb. 3 for arraignment.

Following a nearly daylong hearing, the judge said it was "simply a tragic and heartbreaking case" primarily for the family and friends of Rodriguez, but also to the community of the nearby Millikan High School and the family and friends of the defendant, whom he said "didn't set out to kill someone on that day."

The judge said there was "no evidence at any point, though, that he (Gonzalez) actually was afraid of the car" and "didn't dive away from the car" as it moved, despite the defendant's statement to a Long Beach police detective soon afterward that he had feared that the vehicle was going to strike him after he ordered the vehicle's occupants to stop near Spring Street and Palo Verde Avenue.

The judge called a video of the shooting "very clear" and "powerful."

City News Service contributed to this report.