– Court records reveal the sheriff’s deputy who shot an unarmed
man June 10 also fired at a suspect in 2001, although authorities
never found a gun the sergeant said the man had wielded.
Hollister – Court records reveal the sheriff’s deputy who shot an unarmed man June 10 also fired at a suspect in 2001, although authorities never found a gun the sergeant said the man had wielded.
And the sergeant’s wife accused him of threatening to shoot himself March 13 in front of his 11-year-old daughter, according to divorce court documents filed in early June. The same daughter was in his patrol car during this month’s shooting, despite a department policy disallowing ride-alongs to anyone younger than age 13.
Sgt. Mike Rodrigues remains on leave while the San Benito County Sheriff’s Office investigates the June 10 shooting. Rodrigues shot 29-year-old Israel Guerrero after a Taser stun and baton strike failed to subdue the advancing and aggressive man, according to the sheriff’s office.
Guerrero, who authorities suspect was under the influence of methamphetamine, died later at the hospital.
Sheriff Curtis Hill declined to comment Wednesday on why Rodrigues’ daughter was in the patrol car during the shooting, or the circumstances of the Little Panoche Road shooting and the allegation by Rodrigues’ wife.
Rodrigues declined to comment Wednesday when reached on his cell phone.
The 2001 Incident
On May 22, 2001, Rodrigues shot at then-27-year-old Fernando Anaya Zamora in the dark of the night after uncovering a methamphetamine lab on Little Panoche Road, according to San Benito County Superior Court documents. But authorities never found a gun, and the weapons possession charge against Zamora was later dropped, according to court records.
In his report on the 2001 shooting, Rodrigues stated that while he chased Zamora on foot, the man turned around and pointed a black pistol at him. Rodrigues fired a shot, missing, and Zamora hid in shrubs about 50 yards away, according to the report.
But investigators were unable to find a pistol after the man was arrested or during further searches of the area, said Zamora’s attorney, Art Cantu.
“In defense of Sgt. Rodrigues, the man did have black gloves on, and in a spotlight at night the shine of the leather could be mistaken for metal,” Cantu said.
Wife Alleges Instability
According to county divorce court documents filed June 1, Rodrigues’ wife, Kristi Rodrigues, alleged in writing that on the night of March 13, she was “trying to calm (their) oldest daughter down due to her father’s remarks in front of her about shooting himself,” and “this was not the first time he has mentioned this in front of her.”
Kristi Rodrigues filed for divorce Nov. 30, 2006, according to court records.
When asked if the sheriff’s office knew whether Mike Rodrigues had threatened to shoot himself since March, Hill declined to comment. The sheriff cited the California Penal Code in not discussing personnel information.
“I can’t comment on any of that,” Hill said.
Asked if Rodrigues and the other deputy on scene at the time of the shooting could have successfully subdued 29-year-old Israel Guerrero with nonlethal force, Hill also declined to comment.
“I’m not prepared to make that conclusion yet,” Hill said.
Hill said the cause of death for Guerrero should be determined “soon.” It will be up to District Attorney Candice Hooper to determine if the shooting was justified.
“I am not ready to make any comment until I have seen everything,” Hooper said Wednesday.
She said her office is waiting on supplemental reports, in addition to wrapping up its own investigation. The sheriff’s office has been working to compile Guerrero’s criminal history, Hill said.
Wife Calls Guerrero a ‘Loving Father’
Deputies found what appeared to be methamphetamine and a methamphetamine pipe in the car Guerrero had been driving, said Lt. Roy Iler, a sheriff’s office spokesman. Hill said Guerrero has an “extensive” criminal background and was a “hard-core” criminal street gang member.
After Guerrero was shot, another deputy stunned him with a Taser gun and sprayed him with pepper spray, and Guerrero was taken into custody, deputies said.
Guerrero’s wife, Ivonne Guerrero, declined to comment on specifics of the shooting and said the family has hired an attorney.
“I don’t want people to think he’s a bad person,” Ivonne Guerrero said, pointing to family pictures inside her home Wednesday. “He’s not. He’s a loving father of three.”
Board of Supervisors Chairman Don Marcus said members had yet to discuss the incident. The board is staying apprised of the probe through the county administrative officer, Marcus said.
“I’m concerned about the officer and his family,” Marcus said. “I sympathize, but I’m equally sympathetic to the family of the victim.”