Monterey Park police shot and killed a man outside the Carls Jr. fast food restaurant near East Los Angeles College Monday morning.
On Tuesday the Los Angeles County Coroner’s office identified the man as 22-year old Steven Rodriguez.
Four police officers responded to a call around 9:30 am Monday reporting that an adult male was breaking windows at the fast food restaurant on Cesar Chavez Avenue.
When police arrived, several patrons ran out of the restaurant, followed by the man brandishing a three-foot long metal bar, according to Monterey Park Police and the Sheriff’s Department.
The man did not listen when officers ordered him several times to drop the pipe, and an attempt to use a Taser stun gun on him produced no effect, said authorities.
He then approached one of the police officers, swinging the metal bar twice at him. He was subsequently shot by another police officer, who was “fearing for their safety,” according to a Sheriff’s report. Rodriguez was pronounced dead at the hospital.
A video posted by a witness on YouTube shows the man wielding the pipe being shot eight times by a police officer.
Witnesses say the unidentified man appeared to be in his 20s or 30s. In the video he was seen carrying a blue backpack.
A college student from San Bernardino County who wished to remain anonymous, said he was the person who recorded the shooting incident. He says he is not a student at East Los Angeles College, which is located near the scene of the incident.
He told EGP on Tuesday that he was motivated to upload the video onto YouTube under the pseudonym CaptainSanjeezy because it would provide a record of what happened.
“We live in a society where it is their [the police’s] word versus us, and the cop is always right,” he said, adding that he personally feels the number of times Rodriguez was shot was excessive.
He says he believed the police officers had been using rubber pellets when he first posted the video. When he learned that his video showed someone dying, he considered taking it down, but changed his mind after reading news reports that were written based on the Sheriff’s accounts.
He said the first few shots may have seemed justified, but additional shots could have been avoided because Rodriguez no longer seemed like a threat at that point.
“This shows the truth of what happened and how easily it could have been, if there wasn’t a video, a five minute news story, and the cops would be heroes, with nothing much after that,” he said.
Lieutenant Jeff Alvarado told EGP on Monday that Monterey Park police officers are trained to tell a suspect to drop a weapon, but if a weapon is pointed toward a police officer, then an officer “fearing for his life, will use deadly force to take down the suspect.”
Monterey Park Police have handed over the investigation to the Sheriff’s homicide bureau. The case is also being looked into by the Los Angeles County District Attorney who will determine if the shooting was “within policy.”
According to Alvarado, the district attorney has made a preliminary determination that the shooting was justified. The district attorney’s office did not respond to EGP’s request for verification of that finding.
Sheriff’s Lieutenant Kimberly Unland said it could be some time before the investigation is wrapped up and a final determination is made about what happened.