California school cop charged with murder in fatal shooting

West

(NewsNation Now) — A former school safety officer has been charged with murder in the shooting death of an 18-year-old woman near a Southern California high school last month, prosecutors said Wednesday.

Eddie Gonzalez, 51, is scheduled to be arraigned Friday on one count of murder, Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón said in a statement.

Mona Rodriguez was removed from life support on Oct. 5 following surgery to remove some of her organs, which will be donated to save the lives of five others, her family said in a statement that was released by their attorney to NewsNation affiliate KTLA.

Rodriguez was involved in a fight in a parking lot near Millikan High School, then got into the passenger seat of a car. As the car sped away, the officer began shooting, striking Rodriguez in the back of the head, police spokesperson Arantxa Chavarria said.

Rafeul Chowdhury, the father of Rodriguez’s 5-month-old son, said he was driving the car and that his 16-year-old brother was in the back seat when the shots were fired. He said no one in the car was armed.

According to Chowdhury, the officer had warned Rodriguez and the other teen girl that he would deploy pepper spray if they continued to fight, and the two stopped. No other warnings were given before the officer opened fire, Chowdhury added.

“All we did is just got in the car and left,” he said. “He never told us to stop anytime soon, and the way he shot us, it wasn’t right.”

School safety officers are not permitted to fire at a moving vehicle or at fleeing suspects, according to a use-of-force policy from Long Beach Unified School District’s school safety office. Firearms may be discharged only when reasonably necessary and justified under the circumstances, such as self-defense and the protection of others, the policy states.

Gonzalez has been fired by the Long Beach Unified School District.

The Associated Press and NewsNation affiliate KTLA contributed to this report.

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