Why was Mona Rodriguez shot? Student shot by school safety officer is brain-dead
In a tragic turn of events, a high school student in Long Beach has been declared brain dead after being shot by a school safety officer. 18-year-old Mona Rodriguez was shot by an unnamed officer outside of Millikan High School in Long Beach, California on September 27. The shooting appears to be the result of an altercation between Rodriguez and another 15-year-old student, but details are still scarce at the moment.
Rodriguez's death has become another flashpoint against police violence, with several such incidents being recorded in 2021. In July, a man was shot dead by the LAPD after he pointed a gun-shaped cigarette lighter at an officer. Earlier in May, a Black woman made headlines after claiming she was shot six times by a Texas cop. In April, the nation was left fuming after Brooklyn Center police officer Kim Potter shot Duante Wright during a traffic stop.
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The name of the officer involved in the shooting of Rodriguez has not been revealed but it has been confirmed he is an employee of the Long Beach Unified School District. He is now on paid administrative leave, while the case is being probed by the Long Beach Police Department and Los Angeles County DA. The family has called for the officer to be jailed while slamming his actions.
Why was Mona Rodriguez shot?
According to reports, Rodriguez and another student got into a fight, leading the officer to intervene. He threatened to use pepper spray but ultimately did not since the two stopped fighting. Rodriguez then got into a car with her boyfriend Rafeul Chowdhury and his brother Shahriear Chowdhury. At no point did the officer mention he had a firearm, or threaten to use one Rafeul claimed. "We got in the car, we were already leaving when he decides to come to the side of the car where the fender is and screams, ‘Hey!’," Shahriear told the press.
Video footage backs up the brothers' story and shows the officer approaching the car as it speeds off. He then fired two bullets, "one of the bullets got stuck in the door where I could’ve got shot, the other bullet went through the window where it got Mona," Shahriear added. The fatal bullet hit Rodriguez at the back of her head. No one in the car was armed, and the sudden use of force has both brothers furious. "The way he shot at us, it wasn’t right. He could’ve shot my tires. But why straight through the window?" asked Rafeul.
Civil rights activist Najee Ali is acting as a spokesperson for the family and has called on DA George Gascón to press charges. Whether that will happen or not remains to be seen, with the investigation still ongoing. But Long Beach Unified Superintendent Jill Baker promised that the officer would be judged against the "established standards" of the department.
'Just so hard to say goodbye'
Following the shooting, Rodriguez was taken to Long Beach Memorial Care Hospital. On September 28, Ali confirmed she was on life support, and just a day later added that Rodriguez was brain dead. The family is expected to say goodbye soon as Rodriguez will be taken off life support, with doctors confirming she won't survive. The decision has left Rafeul heartbroken. "I can't even sleep through the nights. I'm going crazy for myself, you know. I'm used to seeing her 24-7," he said.
Rodriguez leaves behind a five-month-old baby, which Rafeul says they were "trying to have for some time." "I just got to step up now and play the mother and the father role, and keep my son strong," he added. Rafeul also said, "It was unreal, it’s just so hard to say goodbye. It’s too early, she’s barely 18." He also had some words for the officer, noting, "I want him in jail for what he did to my girlfriend."
A GoFundMe has now been created to help support the hospital and funeral expenses for Rodriguez. At the time of reporting, it has raised nearly $6,000 of its $50,000 goal. "I beg anyone reading this to help in a way they possibly can please…. anything and I mean absolutely anything will be deeply appreciated from the bottom of our hearts," the description reads. The money will also be used to support the baby and legal action against the officer.