Latinos lack outrage after shooting

By Augustine Ugalde

Police are killing Latinos on the streets of Monterey Park and no one seems to care. The shooting of an East Los Angeles College student at the Carl’s Jr. across the street from the campus on Jan. 23 has many people wondering why this man had to die.

Steven Rodriguez, 22, was shot and killed in broad daylight by two trigger-happy Monterey Park police officers for breaking a few windows and lunging at one of the officers with a metal bar. Rodriguez erred. There is no doubt about that.

This is not a commentary that proposes to ignore this man’s mistakes. What he did was wrong and he needed to be stopped. This is a given. The question remains though, did he have to die?  Why has the Latino community not organized and taken their outrage to the Monterey Park Police Department’s grounds?

Where are the protests?  Where is the outrage?  Why are these officers still on the force? Why isn’t the Latino community calling for the heads of these two cowboys who apparently are taught to shoot first, and ask questions later?

In typical fashion, neither the MPPD, nor the Los Angeles County Sheriff Department, which is handling the investigation of the incident, are releasing any information. This includes the officer’s names.

The only information the LASD will release is that the two officers are on paid, administrative leave and that one is a 12-year veteran and the other, a three-year veteran of the MPPD.

The LASD has ordered the Los Angeles County Coroner’s office to not release the findings of the autopsy being conducted on Rodriguez until after the results are reviewed by the department.

Ten shots were fired at Rodriguez under very close range. This was done despite the fact that Rodriguez was surrounded by police and one of the officers had a dog at his disposal.

This shooting could have possibly been justified had all 10 shots been fired simultaneously, but they were not. One quick-draw officer fired five shots into Rodriguez’s chest first.

Then the other fired into his falling body an additional five times, presumably because he felt that Rodriguez was not dead enough. This is simply not acceptable. This incident brings to mind a similar story, played out in another part of Los Angeles County 21 years ago: the Rodney King beating.

On March 15, 1991, four Los Angeles Police officers were videotaped by a bystander as they beat King, a black man, senseless for refusing to pull his car over for a traffic violation, then leading the officers on a high-speed chase.

King committed a crime, evading arrest. Rodriguez committed a crime, destruction of property. King was under the influence of PCP.  Rodriguez is suspected of the same. King lunged at officers. Rodriguez did the same. King is a member of the minority community. Rodriguez was also a member of the minority community.

King was beaten into submission.  Rodriguez was killed. The outrage over the King beating went viral, at a time preceding the Internet. The outrage over Rodriguez’s shooting went, well, nowhere so far.

A candlelight vigil attended by a small group of Rodriguez’s classmates and family, along with a makeshift memorial at the place this student fell is all the community has mustered in protest of this travesty.

The King beating was on every major television network and news agency in the country and around the world.  There was a huge outcry for justice from the black community about the incident.

Where is the Latino community’s voice? The subsequent criminal trial of the four officers resulted in an initial acquittal on nearly all counts, sparking five days of rioting, looting and arson in many parts of Los Angeles.

This dark period of time for the city left an indelible mark on how the LAPD conducts its business of patrolling the streets of the city. Are the MPPD officers going to rejoin the department and go about their merry way once this story blows over?

King’s attackers were eventually convicted in a civil case, giving the minority community some measure of justice. It looks very much like Rodriguez’s killers will walk away, free and clear.

This man had aspirations.  An eyewitness to the shootings who wished to remain anonymous, knew Rodriguez and said that he wanted to transfer to a four-year university to continue his studies.

This student erred, but his sins were not as great as those who took his life.

This article has 13 Comments

  1. This has to be one of the dumbest articles i’ve ever read. Stop trying to make this an issue of race. He was shot because he came at them with a metal bar, presumably to assault them. The officers had a right to defend themselves.
    This case has nothing to do with the Rodney King beating. Rodney King did not try to attack the officers with a weapon, this kid did.
    And i would hardly call the Latino community a “minority”. If anything, Latinos are expanding at an advanced rate and, according to some studies, might soon become one of THE majorities in the nation by the end of this century.

    1. Where are still a minority calm down dude, it’s not necessarily in insult like ur taking it, they r just stating a fact, but I do agree what everything ur saying about this article.

  2. Funny how everyone talks about the officers as if they have no heart, the shooting was justified. For Weeks ive been hearing people saying that the officers are just Aholes, but put yourself in their shoes, would you think twice before shooting and protecting your partner and yourself? And I find it funny that everyone complains about the officers actions, you all know that if one of your family members were in that Carls.Jr and the officers did things differently you would be complaining that they didn’t do enough! You can’t blame them for having the balls of putting their lives in danger to protect all of you who complain. Why isn’t anyone talking about the individual that broke the windows? Had a pipe? Was a DANGER to others? What was he on? He obviously was on something, was he a drug addict? Remember just because hes known as “the victim” doesn’t mean he was innocent! I applaud the MPPD for taking the action that they did, who’s to say that this guy wouldn’t of gone to the school up the street and done the same,which by the way my children attend. And as for the K9, he himself was in danger, the individual could of.hit him with the pipe, and remember the K9s are considered officers, it would be like throwing your partner in the line of fire. Instead of trying to protest how about we all just let it go and try to help people from actually doing what this individual did, dont focus on the PD, but on friends and family members who have issues.

    1. Yeah protect urself is fine, but they r train to shoot, and are good at aiming!!! A scare bitch pumps ten shots at someone!! Even five in da chest! Trust me I’ve seen the clear video. He shoots da guy in da knees five times!!! Trust me he would have gone down even faster. Da shooting is justified, but the rounds they took is and will always be overboard uncalled for!! Don’t be absurd and say any different. If that was a love one that be the first thing you would say! Why did they keep having to shoot him! Or so many times. Either way a cop with real “balls” would have shot to disable and subdue the kid.

  3. The “trigger-happy Monterey Park police officers” were doing their job and it was not their intention to kill. Yes the young man made mistakes and was possibly warned several times to rid himself of his weapon and give up, yet he obviously refused that option. I don’t agree with the death, but I am very tired of how the police are being verbally mistreated.

  4. To say police are killing latinos, with all do respect that sounds ignorant, it is ignorant to say, what does race have to do with this situation. A man was on the streets under the influence of some kind of drug, with a weapon, so yes he was a threat, a threat to others. However I do feel for the young man, its unfortunate that this happened. But he was tasered and did not drop down, if he did not go down after being tasered in the face! There is no way he would have gone down having the dog released at him, he definitely would have swung at the dog. My point is, it is what it is, everyone or at least everyone should know to NEVER! go towards a police officer in any threatening way, yes they will shoot you!Yes that is how they are trained so knowing this why would someone want to risk it. Yeah he could have shot him in the leg, arm whatever, but everyone knows that’s not how they are trained.
    I’ve seen the video, yes its disturbing and sad but race had nothing to do with it, let’s not start with ignorant comments, come on were college students.

  5. First, I must say that I am a little surprised that these few comments on the article are in favor of the police. Police bashing seems to be one of the “in” things right now. Like Mr. Ugalde, I would think that there would be more outrage from the community. But perhaps the lack of visible community support for Mr. Rodriguez is a sign of the times. Are people becoming immune and less shocked by actions of unstable or violent members of society? Have we seen one too many incidents caught on tape? Or, is it simply the fact that most people believe that Mr. Rodriguez was in the wrong and the police were doing what needed to be done?

    I will be the first to admit that I did not watch the partial video of this incident, nor do I know what it feels like to be a police officer fearing for my safety. I have friends and family who are, and have been, police officers. I would never dream of telling them how to do their job because it is a job that I believe one needs to experience to truly understand.

    Mr. Ugalde made a logical comparison to Rodney King. Many ELAC students were too young, or not even born, when the King incident occurred. Things that were caught on tape back then were truly amazing and virtually unheard of. There was no internet or YouTube. This was truly something new and people ran with it. Everyone was talking about it. The community was outraged. I don’t feel it was just limited to the black community though. Why aren’t we as outraged about this as we were about King? Rodriguez lost his life, King did not.

    Just from reading about the Rodriguez incident, it does seem that he could have been stopped with a few less bullets. But, like I said, I was not there and I don’t know how threatened the officers felt.

    The officers will still be on the force pending an investigation, not fired immediately, or maybe not at all. I don’t believe that cops are trigger-happy as a whole. I know many of them don’t want to shoot. What must it feel like to feel so threatened that you need to shoot and potentially take the life of a person as part of your job? I can’t imagine it is a very good feeling.

    Back to Mr. Ugalde’s comments on the Hispanic community not being outraged. Are people simply wrapped up in their own busy worlds of work, family, relationships, texting, stress and/or school to put forth the effort of organizing some community support for this situation? Do people feel that their voice wouldn’t be heard or taken seriously if they were to come forward? Are people simply turning their heads and waiting for someone else to do it? The answer might not be the same for each person.

    Or perhaps, maybe the Hispanic community believes the police did exactly what needed to be done. Just based on the few comments that precede mine, it seems that this may be the case. I hope to read more comments about this.

  6. I don’t understand, are you suggesting we riot because of this? This wouldn’t of happened if Rodriguez wouldn’t of been weilding a deadly weapon.
    Also, have you seen the Rodney King beating? It’s very brutal. We can’t forget that he was on PCP.

  7. This is an extremely emotionally driven article that focuses more on race and propagates racial tensions and segregation. Reading this left a severely bitter taste in my mouth. Your parallels between Rodriguez and King are preposterous and completely ignores the fact that King did not attack the officers. What you did connect is the fact that a crime was being committed, a minority was involved, and the officers reacted with force — a combination that is far from unique. This was a very ignorant article and very irresponsible journalism that could easily be mistaken as a call for violent retaliation. I behoove you to do more research before writing your next piece.

  8. Augustine, I know that Jean edited the paper, and I don’t know what she said, but allow me to criticize your work.

    //Police are killing Latinos on the streets of Monterey Park and no one seems to care. The shooting of an East Los Angeles College student at the Carl’s Jr. across the street from the campus on Jan. 23 has many people wondering why this man had to die.//

    Oh really? They’re killing Latinos? My roommate is a Latino and he’s not dead. I know friends from the LAPD and they’re Latinos and one is a union representative. He’s not dead. If MPPD were truly killing Latinos, then where is the feds? you mean a black Democratic man in the White House does not care what happens?

    //Steven Rodriguez, 22, was shot and killed in broad daylight by two trigger-happy Monterey Park police officers for breaking a few windows and lunging at one of the officers with a metal bar. Rodriguez erred. There is no doubt about that.//

    Two trigger-happy officers. Lets see, after watching the video, I only saw one OIS (Officer involved Shooting). Not two. One was by the door while the other had a K9. So I only saw one OIS not two. trigger happy? Were they really happy?

    //This is not a commentary that proposes to ignore this man’s mistakes. What he did was wrong and he needed to be stopped. This is a given. The question remains though, did he have to die? Why has the Latino community not organized and taken their outrage to the Monterey Park Police Department’s grounds?//

    For what? Killing a man for whom the officer felt was in self defense because he lunged with an object in his hand to the second officer?

    //Where are the protests? Where is the outrage? Why are these officers still on the force? Why isn’t the Latino community calling for the heads of these two cowboys who apparently are taught to shoot first, and ask questions later?//

    Maybe because they don’t see it the way you do. Can that be a possibility?

    //In typical fashion, neither the MPPD, nor the Los Angeles County Sheriff Department, which is handling the investigation of the incident, are releasing any information. This includes the officer’s names.//

    Uh, that’s policy. Whenever a homicide occurs, the information is tough to get. I did a story on three ELAC students getting killed and it took me awhile to get all the information. I got it. I had to wait, but I got it.

    //The only information the LASD will release is that the two officers are on paid, administrative leave and that one is a 12-year veteran and the other, a three-year veteran of the MPPD.//

    And that’s all you need to know…for the time being.

    //The LASD has ordered the Los Angeles County Coroner’s office to not release the findings of the autopsy being conducted on Rodriguez until after the results are reviewed by the department.//

    So you wait until the information is released

    //Ten shots were fired at Rodriguez under very close range. This was done despite the fact that Rodriguez was surrounded by police and one of the officers had a dog at his disposal.//

    So is it policy to release the dog when a person is wielding a weapon? Yes? No? Ask the training officer up at Rio Hondo Academy. Ask POST (Peace officers Standards and Training). Ask any LEO.

    //This shooting could have possibly been justified had all 10 shots been fired simultaneously, but they were not. One quick-draw officer fired five shots into Rodriguez’s chest first.//

    While shooting, I saw/heard a pattern. there were five shots stop and five more shots. That is what you learn in the academy. you don’t shoot all 10 rounds at once. Had Rodriguez gone down and not attempt to get it, then five more rounds would not have been shot.

    //Then the other fired into his falling body an additional five times, presumably because he felt that Rodriguez was not dead enough. This is simply not acceptable. This incident brings to mind a similar story, played out in another part of Los Angeles County 21 years ago: the Rodney King beating.//

    Uh again the same officer shot five times twice. You are bordering on a GFE. Ask jean what a GFE is and now segueing to Rodney King

    //On March 15, 1991, four Los Angeles Police officers were videotaped by a bystander as they beat King, a black man, senseless for refusing to pull his car over for a traffic violation, then leading the officers on a high-speed chase.//

    Senseless?

    //King committed a crime, evading arrest. Rodriguez committed a crime, destruction of property. King was under the influence of PCP. Rodriguez is suspected of the same. King lunged at officers. Rodriguez did the same. King is a member of the minority community. Rodriguez was also a member of the minority community.//

    And?

    //King was beaten into submission. Rodriguez was killed. The outrage over the King beating went viral, at a time preceding the Internet. The outrage over Rodriguez’s shooting went, well, nowhere so far.//

    So are you attempting to say that what happened to Rodriguez and the lack of empathy is a racial issue? I hope not

    //A candlelight vigil attended by a small group of Rodriguez’s classmates and family, along with a makeshift memorial at the place this student fell is all the community has mustered in protest of this travesty.//

    So are you passing judgement? Hope not

    //The King beating was on every major television network and news agency in the country and around the world. There was a huge outcry for justice from the black community about the incident.

    //Where is the Latino community’s voice? The subsequent criminal trial of the four officers resulted in an initial acquittal on nearly all counts, sparking five days of rioting, looting and arson in many parts of Los Angeles.

    //This dark period of time for the city left an indelible mark on how the LAPD conducts its business of patrolling the streets of the city. Are the MPPD officers going to rejoin the department and go about their merry way once this story blows over?

    //King’s attackers were eventually convicted in a civil case, giving the minority community some measure of justice. It looks very much like Rodriguez’s killers will walk away, free and clear.//

    You know, Augustine, if you did an iota of investigation into Rodney King, you would know that the officers were convicted of violating Rodney King’s civil rights in federal court. Also, if you watched the Simi Valley trial, you would know that the Sgt Stacey Koon’s lawyer blew the prosecution’s witness Use of Force expert Sgt. Fred Nichols’ testimony out of water and proved that Nichols was lying for the prosecution. And if you did even more investigation, you know that Nichols had a questionable shooting in the 70s/80s and right after the King case, Nichols killed himself with a shotgun. And if you further investigated the King story, you would know that Nichols was on the verge of being prosecuted for the shooting. But you didn’t.

    Did you ever wonder why the four officers would remain in the lights know they would get exposed, while former disgraced officer Rafael Perez did his crime in the dark? Maybe because the former had nothing to hide and Perez et al did?

    //This man had aspirations. An eyewitness to the shootings who wished to remain anonymous, knew Rodriguez and said that he wanted to transfer to a four-year university to continue his studies.//

    //This student erred, but his sins were not as great as those who took his life.//

    Too bad for Rodriguez. But as a reporter and once you are out, make sure you get your facts correct? Your stories: News, E.T. and Opine need to be based on facts. And not just emotions solely.

    OK?

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