On Feb. 14, 2016, Eduardo Edwin Rodriguez was on his way home in East Los Angeles with two friends in a van when they were pulled over by the police. Police were suspicious of the van after it was seen leaving a parking lot that was known to be a dumping place for stolen vehicles. According to reporting by Los Angeles Times right after the incident, the police officers say Rodriguez refused to get out of the car when requested. They said he seemed “fidgety” and that made the officers nervous. What ensued, according to the police officers, was a “violent struggle” that escalated after one of the officers saw a gun. After Rodriguez broke from one deputy’s grips, they opened fire, killing him in the middle of the street. That was the story then. Now, it has changed.
A year and a half later, the family is seeking justice in a wrongful death lawsuit. New court documents are placing the focus on one of the deputies and a sergeant, Andrew Alatorre, who were there on the scene, according to LA Weekly. The document, which was compiled from testimony and accounts from seven of the officers that were on the scene, allege that Alatorre fired at Rodriguez 14 times at close range while he was injured, unarmed, and face down on the ground.
“During that struggle several deputies were in close physical proximity to Edwin Rodriguez, were actively trying to control him by grabbing at his arms, and were striking and pummeling him repeatedly, causing him to raise his arms in self-defense to thwart the blows,” the motion reads, according to LA Weekly. It was during this struggle that one of the deputies urged her fellow deputies to shoot to subdue him so they could detain him. Once he fell to the ground, according to LA Weekly, Alatorre walked up to Rodriguez and asked him to show his hands. When Rodriguez did not, he shot Rodriguez in the back 14 times. Deputies claim that his hands were under his body but the family’s attorney disputes the claim, saying that photos from the scene show his hands outstretched over his head.
LA Weekly has also reported that this is not Alatorre’s first time being sued for a shooting incident. Back in 2014, Alatorre was called to a suicide attempt in Maywood, Calif. During the call, Alatorre misidentified an object in Salvador Palencia’s hand as a knife. Alatorre shot and killed Palencia before it was discovered that Palencia was holding a cake spatula, according to LA Weekly.