Protesters demand criminal charges against school safety officer who shot 18-year-old

About 30 protesters gathered outside the Long Beach Police Department headquarters in Downtown Sunday afternoon, demanding the arrest and prosecution of a Long Bach Unified school safety officer accused of shooting 18-year-old Mona Rodriguez near Millikan High School Monday.

“There is no justice right now, and there’s no peace because … the school safety officer hasn’t been arrested,” said Valerie Garcia, a family friend of Mona’s boyfriend who said she’d helped raise Mona.

Mona, who was expected to be taken off life support some time this weekend, leaves behind a 5-month-old son. Sunday’s rally was organized on behalf of the family of 20-year-old Rafeul Chowdhury, Mona’s boyfriend and the baby’s father. Mona’s family previously said they would not participate in the protest, but they too have called for the officer to be criminally prosecuted.

Mona Rodriguez. Courtesy her family.

Police say the school safety officer on Monday shot Mona after he broke up a fight that she initiated with a 15-year-old girl. Chowdhury and his 16-year-old brother were also allegedly involved in the fight, according to police. The officer, who was identified by the Long Beach Unified School District as Eddie F. Gonzalez, fired at them when they tried to flee in a gray sedan. Video posted on social media shows him walking up to the car before it speeds past him.

Mona’s wound to the head left her brain dead and her family kept her on life support to donate her organs.

“I feel that she died then and there,” Garcia said about the moment she was shot.

Anthony Bryson, a Long Beach activist, said Sunday’s rally served to pressure law enforcement and prosecutors to arrest and severely charge Gonzalez.

“What kind of community are we creating if we’re slaying our children,” Bryson said.

School safety officers work for the Long Beach Unified School District, which has a policy that instructing them not to shoot at moving vehicles or fleeing suspects.

Speakers on Sunday also shared stories about other people killed by police officers. While many rallygoers agreed Mona fighting a 15-year-old was wrong, they don’t believe she should have been shot for it.

“That is an injustice that should bother everyone,” Cal State Los Angeles professor Alejandro Villalpando, said in Spanish.

Family calls for attorney general to prosecute school safety officer who shot 18-year-old

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Crystal Niebla is the West Long Beach reporter through the Report for America program. Philanthropic organizations pledged to cover the local donor portion of her grant-funded position with the Post. If you want to support Crystal's work, you can donate to her Report For America position at lbpost.com/support.
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