Mona Rodriguez. Courtesy her family.

The prosecution rested its case-in-chief today in the murder trial of a former Long Beach Unified School District safety officer who fired at a car and fatally wounded an 18-year-old woman who had just been involved in an altercation with a teenage girl near Millikan High School.

The defense began its portion of Eddie Gonzalez’s case after the jury heard a half-dozen stipulations, including an agreement that Manuela “Mona” Rodriguez died of a gunshot wound to the back of the head.

Jurors are expected to be handed the case later this week against Gonzalez, now 54, who was charged in October 2021 with murder for the fatal shooting of Rodriguez. She was sitting in the front passenger seat of an Infiniti being driven through a parking parking lot on Sept. 27, 2021.

The shooting was captured on video that was widely aired on local media. Rodriguez died days later after being taken off life support.

During the trial, attorneys have sought to present dueling evidence about whether Gonzalez was in danger and acting in self-defense when he fired.

Gonzalez’s attorney, Michael Schwartz, said the safety officer had less than two seconds to assess whether he was about to be run over, how to get out of the way and stop the threat.

“They will not prove that it wasn’t self-defense because it definitely was,” Schwartz said.

Deputy District Attorney Kristopher Gay, however, told the jury that Gonzalez was in “no danger,” and he “responded to youthful disobedience with deadly force” after breaking up a fight between Rodriguez and a female Millikan High School student near Spring Street and Palo Verde Avenue, about a block from the campus.

The defense’s first witness, Sabrina Ramos, testified that she believed a phone had been taken from her during the altercation with Rodriguez and said that she told the school safety officer about it after he responded to the scene. She said she subsequently saw the phone on the ground.


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In questioning by the defense, the now-18-year-old woman told jurors that she saw Gonzalez run over to the car containing Rodriguez, her boyfriend and his younger brother.

“It looked like he was going to get hit by the car,” the former Millikan High School student testified.

Under cross-examination by the prosecution, the young woman said she didn’t want to fight with Rodriguez and denied that she had ever challenged her to a fight or threatened to call the Department of Children and Family Services. She acknowledged that she had communicated with Rodriguez on Instagram, but said she had shared her password with a friend.

In testimony Monday, Rodriguez’s boyfriend, Rafeul Chowdhury, denied trying to run over Gonzalez after the school safety officer intervened in the confrontation.

Rafeul Chowdhury, the boyfriend of the woman shot by a school safety officer, sits near a car with a bullet hole in the passenger side after a shooting near Millikan High School on Monday, Sept. 27, 2021. Photo by Stephen Carr.

“Did you try to hit the school safety officer?”’ Deputy District Attorney Lee Orquiola asked the young man.

“Of course not,” Chowdhury responded.

He said he didn’t hear gunshots being fired at the car’s rear passenger window and didn’t realize they were until his younger brother told him. He said he saw blood “all over” and stopped nearby to ask for help for his injured girlfriend.

Under questioning by the former school safety officer’s attorney, Chowdhury acknowledged that he had previously been arrested on suspicion of domestic violence and was charged in connection with the confrontation with Ramos despite maintaining that he “never touched her” along with being charged with criminal threats in a case in Tulare County. He said he was

testifying under an immunity agreement with the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.

The man’s younger brother, Shahriear, who was 16 at the time, also testified under an immunity agreement that he recorded the fight on Rodriguez’s cell phone at her request.

He said he hadn’t seen the school safety officer with a gun before hearing the two shots being fired at the car as the three were leaving the parking lot, and said his older brother was “like screaming and crying” after realizing that his girlfriend had been struck by the gunfire.

Testimony in the defense’s portion of the trial was set to continue Wednesday.

Gonzalez — who is free on bond — was fired by the school district a week after the shooting.

Omar Rodriguez comforts his mother Manuela Sahagun after a press conference announcing that the LBUSD has settled with the family in the death of Mona Rodriguez in Long Beach, Friday, April 4, 2023. Photo by Thomas R. Cordova.

Just over a year ago, Rodriguez’s family announced that they reached a $13 million settlement of their lawsuit against the school district in connection with her shooting death.

The lawsuit alleged that Gonzalez did not pass probation when he tried to be hired by the Los Alamitos and Sierra Madre police departments, but that he was still hired by the LBUSD, which compounded matters by negligently training him.

The family’s attorneys also argued that Gonzalez violated district policy by shooting into a moving vehicle at a fleeing person.

“I personally don’t really care about the settlement. It’s not bringing back my sister,” Rodriguez’s brother, Omar, said last year. “I don’t want anybody else to go through this pain.”