A school safety officer who shot and killed an 18 year-old mother as she fled the scene of a fight with a 15 year-old girl has been fired, with concerns since raised over his employment history.
The Long Beach Board of Education announced on Wednesday that they terminated Millikan High School safety officer Eddie F. Gonzalez the same day 18-year-old Mona Rodriguez, who had been on life support for more than a week, died after being shot in the back of the head.
‘After our internal review, you clearly saw areas where the employee violated district policy and did not meet our standards and expectations,’ Superintendent Jill Baker said in a statement. ‘We believe the decision to terminate this officer’s employment is warranted, justified, and quite frankly, the right thing to do.’
Gonzalez’s conduct is now being probed by the Long Beach Police Department, although no criminal charges have been brought. A use of force expert has said his multiple brief stints in other police departments should have raised red flags about his employability.
Although no charges have been brought against Gonzalez, a look at his work history raises ‘a bunch of red flags,’ Timothy Williams, a police-use-of-force expert and retired detective supervisor with the LAPD, told Long Beach Post News.
Gonzalez has jumped from police department to police department after only a few short months over the last two years and made the unusual move to become a school safety officer after only a few years in the force.
Eddie Gonzalez, the school safety officer who shot and killed Mona Rodriguez, is pictured being sworn in as a cop at Los Alamitos PD in February 2019 – a position he held for just four months
In September 2019 Gonzalez (pictured right) took another job as a police officer with the city of Sierra Madre in Los Angeles County, which came to an end July 2020. A spokesman for the department said they ‘chose to separate’ from him, but wouldn’t comment further
Prior to being hired as a safety officer at the school on January 10 of this year, Gonzalez worked for the Los Alamitos Police Department for only four months in 2019, Long Beach Post News reported.
The city of Los Alamitos confirmed to the Long Beach Post that Gonzalez worked for the department from January 8, 2019, to April 8, 2019.
Video footage shows Gonzalez being sworn in on February 2019 as a new police officer by Los Alamitos Police Chief Eric Nuñez.
In his introduction Nunez says Gonzalez was born in Los Angeles and served as a Marine Corps.
In September 2019 he took another job as a police officer with the city of Sierra Madre in Los Angeles County, which came to an end July 2020.
A spokesman for the department told the LA Times it ‘chose to separate’ from Gonzalez, but did not comment further about the circumstances of his departure.
Long Beach Unified School District said they were aware of his brief stints as a police officer in two separate police departments, and said that the agencies were contacted during the hiring process.
‘Nothing in those checks was disqualifying,’ District spokesman Chris Eftychiou told the Long Beach Post.
But Williams says he has ‘concerns’ about Gonzalez jumping from department to department, saying he’s seen that behavior from officers with ‘checkered backgrounds.’
Rodriguez, who has a five-month-old son, was shot as she drove away from the scene where she had earlier gotten into a fight with a 15-year-old girl near Millikan High School in Long Beach on September 27.
Mona Rodriguez, a teenage mother, died after being taken off of life support
The moment a teenage mother was shot in the back of the head by a school safety officer, leaving her brain dead, has been captured by cell phone video
The victim, whose full name was Manuela, was struck by a bullet while leaving the school in a car with the father of her child, Rafeul Chowdhury, 20, and his 16-year-old brother. None of the people in the car at the time were enrolled at Millikan High School.
Harrowing video shows the moment Gonzalez fires two shots at the car, which nearly hits him as it speeds out of the parking lot.
Rodriguez was taken off life support Wednesday after her body was prepared to donate her organs. She donated a heart, lungs, liver, and kidneys, which will save the lives of five people, the family released in a statement.
Luis Carrillo, a family attorney, called on prosecutors to bring charges against Gonzalez.
The 18-year-old was left brain dead after being shot in the back of the head by a school safety officer as she tried to flee a fight
Mona passed after doctors took the 18-year-old mother off of life support on Wednesday
Rafeul Chowdhury (left), the father of Rodriguez’s child, told reporters that the officer had not warned before firing his weapon. (Pictured with civil rights activist Najee Ali)
‘This officer should be in jail right now,’ he said at the vigil. ‘The mother is suffering, every family member and friend is suffering.’
Carrillo sent a letter to California Attorney General Rob Bonta last week insisting that the office open an investigation into the shooting. Carillo claims that the incident meets the legal standing for murder or manslaughter charges against the officer.
Speaking outside the school last week, Chowdhury told reporters that Gonzalez had threatened Rodriguez and the 15-year-old girl she had been fighting with pepper spray.
He claimed that the girls stopped fighting, and that the officer did not warn them he would use his gun before firing.
‘All we did is just got in the car and left,’ Chowdhury said. ‘He never told us to stop anytime soon, and the way he shot us, it wasn’t right.’
KTLA reported that Chowdhury added that he and Rodriguez had been trying to have a child for some time.
‘Now we do, and she [Mona]’s gone,’ he said. ‘I just got to step up now and play the mother and the father role, and keep my son strong.’
Civil rights activist Najee Ali also spoke outside the school on Wednesday.
‘There’s no excuse, no justification for this officer shooting in the rear passenger-side window of a car with a woman who’s unarmed. Everyone in the car was unarmed,’ he said.
‘The fact is, he shot at someone in the passenger seat with no regard for anyone’s life in the car.’
‘The only way we stop these safety officers from shooting unarmed people and killing them is by having them prosecuted and held accountable for what they’ve done wrong to members of the community.’