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Family of teen shot by school resource officer announces $13 million wrongful death settlement

Mona Rodriguez is holding her infant son Isael

Mona Rodriguez (via GoFundMe)

The family of a teenager who died after being shot by a school resource officer says that it has reached a multi-million dollar settlement with the school district.

Attorneys for the family of Manuela “Mona” Rodriguez have announced that the Long Beach Unified School District will pay $13 million to settle a wrongful death lawsuit, the Los Angeles Times reported. Rodriguez died in October 2021 after being shot in the head by Eddie Gonzalez, a school resource officer at nearby Millikan High School in Long Beach, California.

Shortly before 3:15 p.m., Rodriguez had apparently been involved in a fight with a 15-year-old girl in a parking lot near the high school. Gonzalez intervened, and Rodriguez entered the front passenger seat of a car being driven by her boyfriend.

Bystander video showed Gonzalez approaching the car. Shortly after, the car pulls away, and that’s when Gonzalez is seen firing his gun at the vehicle. Rodriguez, 18, was struck in the head by one of two bullets.

She was taken off life support eight days later. She left behind a five-month-old son.

Rodriguez’s family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the school district in early 2022, according to the Los Angeles Times. The lawsuit alleged that the school district was negligent in hiring Gonzalez and didn’t properly train him.

At a press conference on Tuesday, Rodriguez’s family expressed ambivalence about the settlement.

“I personally don’t really care about the settlement. It’s not bringing back my sister,” Rodriguez’s brother, Omar, said on Tuesday, according to local NBC News affiliate KNBC. “I don’t want anybody else to go through this pain.”

A lawyer for the family said that the car was driving away from Gonzalez when he fired and that he wasn’t in any danger.

“We shouldn’t be here today but they screwed it all up by hiring an unqualified future killer cop,” attorney Luis Carrillo said, according to The Associated Press.

A spokesperson for the LBUSD could not confirm the settlement.

“The school district and its insurance carriers have been in negotiations on a settlement, but because we have not seen or ratified an agreement, we cannot discuss the details,” Chris Eftychiou said in an emailed statement to Law&Crime. “Settlements like these include language that there is no admission of liability on the district’s part. However, we again share our sincerest condolences with everyone who was impacted by this terrible event.”

Rodriguez family attorney Michael Carrillo told Law&Crime that the school district has agreed to the award amount.

“The terms themselves have not been completely finalized for a written settlement agreement but the District has agreed to pay $13 million,” Carrillo said in an email on Wednesday.

Gonzalez has been charged with murder in Rodriguez’s death. He pleaded not guilty and has a pretrial conference set for June.

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