A Texas cop who shot and killed a man for driving off during a traffic stop will not face charges – even though the dashcam video shows the officer firing into the driver’s side window from the side – nowhere close to being struck by the car.
However, Brownsville police say they found a screwdriver inside the man’s car and that was enough for the Cameron County grand jury to not charge officer Rolando Trujillo Jr with any crimes Wednesday.
But the video does not show Jose Ramon Rodriguez using the screwdriver to lunge at the officer, which is the usual justification for killing citizens with screwdrivers.
But at this point, it does not matter. A 24-year-old man is dead and the cop who killed him will walk, even though any of us can see that his life was not in danger.
And it is still not clear exactly where in the vehicle was the screwdriver, according to local news reports.
The Brownsville Herald reported that “authorities report a screw driver was found near the driver’s side of the vehicle in which Rodriguez was driving.’
And KRGV reported Rodriguez’s mother saying it was in the back of the truck.
“They should have indicted the officer that killed my son, what he did,” Trevino said. “He was the one who opened the door. I mean, that’s not right.”
Trevino said she and her family keep replaying the dash cam video. They said they watch the moment when Jose Roman Rodriguez was killed.
Trevino said her family doesn’t agree with the investigation.
“Now they’re saying my son had a screwdriver,” she said. “Nobody can have a screwdriver in the back of a truck, because that means you’re going to kill somebody? That’s not a reason to kill.”
Trevino said she’s lost trust in the Brownsville Police Department.
“Brownsville is a bunch of lies,” she said. “They took a month and a half to build out their own things, their own story, their own backups. Right now, my attorney is the one who’s going to take care of it.”
The incident took place July 17 when Trujillo pulled Rodriguez over at 2 a.m., believing him to be connected with a strong-armed robbery from a nearby store where two men had ran out with several cases of beer without paying.
As soon as Rodriguez pulled to the side of the road, his passenger, Jaime Gomez, opened the passenger door and took off running.
Trujillo walked up to the driver’s side and opened the door, pointing his flashlight inside the car. He then places the flashlight back on his belt as he motions for Rodriguez to step out.
But Rodriguez closes the door and starts revving his engine before driving off, prompting Trujillo to pull out his gun and fire four times.
The car comes to a stop several yards ahead as Trujillo runs back to his patrol car, speeds up to Rodriguez’s car, strikes it from behind and orders him to “put the vehicle in park!”.
He then reaches inside and apparently puts the vehicle in park because Rodriguez does not appear to be responding.
If this was the moment that Rodriguez made Trujillo fear for his life with the screwdriver, then it should have been stated.
Because as it is now, the video is eerily reminiscent of the University of Cincinnati shooting of Samuel DuBose – which took place only two days after this incident – and which led to murder charges against officer Ray Tensing.
But that decision was made by a prosecutor who chose not to use a grand jury.