Monterey Park Police Chief Says Carl’s Jr. Shooting ‘Tragic For All Involved’

Local political activist requests independent investigation, says Sheriff’s would favor police accounts.

By EGP News Report

An incident near the Monterey Park Carl’s Jr. fast food restaurant in which police officers shot 22-year old Chino Hills resident Steven Rodriguez ten times was “tragic for all involved,” Monterey Park Police Chief Jim Smith said during a brief statement at last  Wednesday’s city council meeting. He said investigations by outside agencies are pending and declined to say more.

In the audience were family, friends and supporters of Rodriguez still dressed in the black attire they donned for his funeral service in nearby Montebello earlier that evening. Rodriguez had roots in the area, which included living in the cities of San Gabriel and Alhambra for years. He attended schools in the Garvey and San Gabriel school districts.

Related Stories: Vigil Held In Memory Of Man Killed By Monterey Park Police, Monterey Park Police Fatally Shoot Man Outside Carl’s Jr. [UPDATED]

Monterey Park police officers responded on the morning of Jan. 23 to reports that Rodriguez was allegedly smashing in the windows of a Carl’s Jr. restaurant. He was not deterred when officers used a Taser on him, according to a Sheriff’s report. Police officers opened fire on him because Rodriguez allegedly swung twice at them, and they feared for their own safety, the report said.

Monterey Park officials have declined to speak further on the matter, referring all inquiries to the Sheriff’s department, which has itself declined to go into anymore detail beyond initial reports about what happened during the confrontation between Rodriguez and Monterey Park police.

The Monterey Park city attorney also strongly advised the city council not to discuss the shooting because there is a “threat of litigation” and a “pending investigation.”

Locally-based political activist Carlos Montes spoke in support of Rodriguez during public comment.
“Causing a disturbance or breaking windows in my opinion is not a death sentence. In my opinion, the police overreacted to a situation that could have ended in a simple arrest,” he said, adding that an independent investigation of the incident should be conducted.

The shooting incident, which involved Monterey Park police, is being investigated by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s department, as well as the Los Angeles District Attorney Justice System Integrity Division according to standard practice in cases of officer involved shootings.

Montes, a former Monterey Park resident now living in Alhambra, said the Sheriff’s own record with officer involved shootings has not been very good, and argued that law enforcement agencies will always defend their own.

“If you do not [conduct an independent investigation], the L.A. County Sheriff’s department may conclude that it was justifiable as they usually do, as they always do,” he said.

Montes, who describes himself as a Chicano activist, was involved with the Chicano Blowouts, a series of school walkouts in East Los Angeles protesting educational inequality. He was also part of the Brown Berets, an organization formed in the 1960s and 1970s by working class youth fighting a variety of issues affecting them, including problems with police harassment.

Monterey Park resident Greg Moss also weighed in on the shooting, saying he supports the police department.

“I think we’re fortunate that we have our own police department. I’ve made numerous calls to the Monterey Park police department in the years that I’ve lived here in Monterey Park, and I’ve found them to be very professional, very good response time,” he said. “They use good judgment and they’re very good about carrying out the laws to the best of their abilities… so I don’t have any doubt that the officers that were involved in the shooting were very saddened by having to take the action that they did, but they do have a right to defend themselves.”

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February 6, 2012  Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.

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