Family of Teen Fatally Shot by Long Beach SSO Gets $13 Million

Millikan High School SSO Eddie Gonzalez fired his weapon at a vehicle as it drove away, striking the passenger who was later taken off life support.

Family of Teen Fatally Shot by Long Beach SSO Gets $13 Million

Photo: zimmytws, Adobe Stock

LONG BEACH, Calif. — The Long Beach Unified School District (LBUSD) has reached a $13 million settlement agreement with the family of an 18-year-old woman who was shot and killed by a school safety officer (SSO) in 2021.

On Sept. 27, 2021, Millikan High School SSO Eddie Gonzalez was driving a school safety vehicle about a block from campus when he came upon an altercation between 18-year-old Mona Rodriguez and a 15-year-old girl, Campus Safety previously reported. After the fight was broken up, Rodriguez jumped in the passenger seat of a vehicle driven by her boyfriend. As it sped away, Gonzalez fired two shots, striking Rodriguez. Rodriguez was left brain-dead and was taken off life support a week later, leaving behind her five-month-old son.

“This was a homicide,” Arnoldo Casillas, a lawyer for Rodriguez’s family, said during a news conference Tuesday. “Anyone who sees the video and looks at it honestly sees it for what it is. He was not in danger. The car had gone by and there was no reason to shoot.”

Rodriguez’s mother, Manuela Sahagun, sued Gonzalez and the LBUSD in Dec. 2021 alleging wrongful death, excessive force, negligence, and civil rights violations. In a statement, LBUSD said it negotiated terms of the settlement with Rodriguez’s family but that the agreement is not an “admission of liability.”

“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. Settlements like these include language that there is no admission of liability on the district’s part,” reads the statement. “However, we again share our sincerest condolences with everyone who was impacted by this terrible event.”

Part of the settlement money has been placed in a trust for Rodriguez’s son until he turns 18.

Gonzalez was fired by the Long Beach Board of Education days after the shooting. The board determined Gonzalez violated its use-of-force policy which states officers shall not fire at a fleeing person, shall not fire at a moving vehicle, and shall not fire through a vehicle window unless circumstances clearly warrant the use of a firearm as a final means of defense.

Following his firing, Superintendent Jill Baker said Gonzalez violated the policy “and did not meet our expectations,” adding the decision to terminate his employment was “warranted, justified, and quite frankly, the right thing to do.”

Gonzalez was charged with murder in Oct. 2021 and has pleaded not guilty. The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office told CNN Gonzalez is scheduled to appear in court for a preliminary hearing on June 7.

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About the Author

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Amy is Campus Safety’s Executive Editor. Prior to joining the editorial team in 2017, she worked in both events and digital marketing.

Amy has many close relatives and friends who are teachers, motivating her to learn and share as much as she can about campus security. She has a minor in education and has worked with children in several capacities, further deepening her passion for keeping students safe.

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