The 18-year-old woman shot this week by a Long Beach school safety officer as the car she was in drove away is brain dead and not expected to survive, loved ones said Wednesday.
The hospital has told Mona Rodriguez’s family that she will be taken off life support in less than 24 hours, according the family’s attorneys.
Mona Rodriguez’s brother, Oscar Rodriguez, said the decision should be left to her family.
“They’re trying to take my sister away. At first they told me that I would be able to make the decision, and now they’re taking that away from me,” Rodriguez said.
The father of Mona Rodriguez’s 5-month-old child and the father’s brother, who were both in the car when Rodriguez was shot, stood alongside civil rights activist Najee Ali to demand justice in Monday’s shooting near Millikan High School.
Rodriguez is only on life support until all her family members can say their goodbyes, Ali said. “She’s on life support, but Mona is gone.”
Rafeul Chowdhury, her son’s father, said they’d been trying to have a child for some time.
“And now we do, and now she’s gone,” he said. “I just got to step up now and play the mother and the father role, and keep my son strong.”
Police say Rodriguez was involved in a fight with a 15-year-old girl in the street Monday afternoon, in the area of Spring Street and Palo Verde Avenue. Rodriguez was then shot as she left in a car with a 20-year-old man and 16-year-old boy, whose possible involvement in the fight authorities are investigating.
Cellphone video shows the officer opening fire on the sedan as it sped off from a parking area and nearly clipped him.
Chowdhury said the officer had warned Rodriguez and the girl he would pepper spray them if they didn’t stop fighting. But he says they did stop, and the officer made no further warnings before opening fire.
“All we did is just got in the car and left,” he said. “He never told us to stop anytime soon, and the way he shot us, it wasn’t right.”
One of two bullets fired into the car struck Rodriguez in the back of her head, Ali said.
“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. “And the fact is, he shot at someone in the passenger seat with no regard for anyone’s life in the car.”
The school safety officer was placed on paid administrative leave pending further investigation, according to officials.
But loved ones are calling for the officer involved to be arrested and prosecuted. He has not been publicly identified.
“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,” Ali said.
Long Beach Unified Superintendent Jill Baker said the district’s school safety officers are “highly trained and held accountable to the established standards in their profession,” and the officer who shot Rodriguez will be judged against those standards as the shooting is probed.
Long Beach police are continuing to investigate the use of lethal force and said officers were increasing patrols at Millikan High School.
A GoFundMe page was created by Rodriguez’s family members in order to raise money for funeral and other expenses.