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Family of 18-year-old woman fatally shot by a school safety officer announces $13 million settlement reached with school district

<i>Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times/Getty Images</i><br/>Manuela Sahagun
Los Angeles Times via Getty Imag
Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times/Getty Images
Manuela Sahagun

By Cheri Mossburg and Christina Maxouris, CNN

The family of an 18-year-old woman who was fatally shot by a California school safety officer in 2021 reached a $13 million settlement agreement with the Long Beach Unified School District in their civil case, family attorneys said in a news conference Tuesday.

Manuela “Mona” Rodriguez was shot by a Millikan High School safety officer on September 27, 2021, after a physical altercation involving Rodriguez and a 15-year-old girl on the street, Long Beach police previously said. Rodriguez had attempted to flee in a sedan and the school safety officer shot at the vehicle as it accelerated, striking Rodriguez, who was in the front passenger seat, police had said.

Rodriguez died after spending more than a week on life support. She left behind a 5-month-old son.

In a statement, the Long Beach Unified School District confirmed it had been negotiating terms of a settlement and added 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,” the school district said. “Settlements like these include language that there is no admission of liability on the district’s part.”

“However, we again share our sincerest condolences with everyone who was impacted by this terrible event,” the district added.

Family attorney Michael Carrillo also confirmed to CNN they “expect no admission of liability (from the school district) in the release agreement.”

A court date for the settlement approval has not yet been set, Carrillo added.

‘She meant everything to me’

In a news conference Tuesday, Rodriguez’s mother said she has been seeking justice since her daughter’s death.

“I don’t know how to go on, how I’m here, how to move on without my baby girl. She meant everything to me,” Manuela Sahagun said. “All I want is justice — justice for my baby girl.”

Settlement funds that have been designated for Rodriguez’s young son will remain in a trust until he turns 18, a family attorney said.

Eddie Gonzalez, the school safety officer who shot Rodriguez, was charged with murder and has pleaded not guilty.

He was fired by the Long Beach Board of Education days after the shooting for violating the district’s use-of-force policy, which instructs its safety officers not to shoot at a fleeing person, moving vehicle or through a vehicle window unless “circumstances clearly warrant the use of a firearm as a final means of defense,” the policy states.

In a statement to CNN, Gonzalez’s attorney Michael D. Schwartz said, “What factors a municipality and their insurance carrier may consider in deciding to settle a civil law suit are rarely if ever related to whether the prosecution can prove in court that a crime was actually committed by my client.”

“If past history is at all instructive, the outcomes of these cases, based on the evidence presented in court, are rarely consistent with what appears before trial in the media,” Schwartz said. “Cases are, and should be, tried in a courtroom, and not in the ‘court’ of misinformed public opinion.”

The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office told CNN Gonzalez is scheduled to be in court for a preliminary hearing on June 7.

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CNN’s Alberto Moya contributed to this report.

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