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Woman, 18, shot by school safety officer being taken off life support

Published: Oct. 4, 2021 at 12:29 AM CDT
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LONG BEACH, Calif. (CNN) - A California family is demanding answers after a school safety officer shot and critically wounded an 18-year-old woman. The victim has lost all brain function and will be taken off life support, her family says.

Manuela “Mona” Rodriguez, 18, was expected to be disconnected from life support over the weekend, said her family at a news conference Friday. Her organs will be donated. She leaves behind her 5-month-old baby.

Her family’s attorney says Rodriguez was shot in the head Sept. 27 by a school safety officer outside of the Millikan High School campus in Long Beach, California. The 18-year-old, who was not a student at the school, was fighting with a 15-year-old girl when the officer intervened.

Manuela “Mona” Rodriguez, 18, was expected to be disconnected from life support over the...
Manuela “Mona” Rodriguez, 18, was expected to be disconnected from life support over the weekend. Her organs will then be donated. She leaves behind her 5-month-old baby.(Source: Family photos, KCAL via CNN)

Police say Rodriguez then got in the front passenger seat of a grey sedan, and as the vehicle accelerated quickly, the officer fired at it, hitting Rodriguez.

“I don’t think my girlfriend deserved this. It was all for no reason. He never told us anything. All we did was get in the car and left,” said Rodriguez’s boyfriend and the father of her child, 20-year-old Rafael Chowdhury.

Rafael Chowdhury was driving the car when Rodriguez was shot. His 16-year-old brother, Shahriear Chowdhury, was in the back seat and says the officer had only warned about using pepper spray.

“He said that when the two females were fighting, that if they don’t stop, he’s going to pepper spray, which they stopped,” Shahriear Chowdhury said.

Rodriguez’s heartbroken family demanded justice Wednesday outside Long Beach Memorial Hospital at a vigil for the 18-year-old.

Long Beach Police, who were not involved in the shooting, are investigating, along with the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.

Family attorney Luis Carrillo is also calling for the California attorney general to investigate.

“Everybody is upset that a rogue officer did this ugly thing that he did – shot at an 18-year-old young lady – and is still walking the streets. This officer should be in jail right now,” Carrillo said.

School safety officers are employees of the district, not of any police department, according to Long Beach Unified School District.

The public information director says the officer involved in the shooting had been employed since January 2021 and had completed more than 600 hours of state-required peace officer training and twice yearly firearms training.

The officer is on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigations, the district says.

“She might have been doing something she wasn’t supposed to, but she was unarmed and already fleeing. There was no reason for that cop to fire,” said Rodriguez’s cousin, Alex Villasenor.

The school district’s use of force policy states that school safety officers “have the duty to use firearms only for self-defense or defense of others to prevent death or great bodily injury.”

It also says officers shall not fire warning shots and shall not fire at a fleeing person, at a moving vehicle or through a vehicle window unless “circumstances clearly warrant the use of a firearm as a final means of defense.”

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