Monterey County DA Shares Details, Footage In Deadly Officer Involved Shooting

Apr 2, 2019

The investigation continues into an officer-involved shooting last month that left a Salinas woman dead. Police were called because she allegedly threatened to kill someone. 

The shooting happened on March 1 on East Laurel Drive. Salinas Police officers and hostage negotiators tried for hours to get Brenda Mendoza-Rodriguez, 20, to surrender. The standoff started after a woman called 911 saying Rodriguez had pulled a screwdriver out and threatened to kill her.  

Rodriguez then barricaded herself in a broken-down, green Ford Explorer. She was living in that car in the front yard of the woman’s home. According to the D.A.’s office, Rodriguez had been dating the woman’s son for about a year and a half. The D.A.’s office says the couple got into a fight that morning.

When officers arrived and tried to get Rodriguez out of the car, she allegedly pulled out a gun. The Salinas Police Hostage Negotiation team responded and contacted the Monterey County Behavioral Health Unit for help.

Mental health representatives informed hostage negotiators that Rodriguez was dealing with mental illness and that she had given birth about three weeks before. The baby was removed from her custody because the child was born with meth in its system.

On Tuesday, the Monterey County District Attorney's Office shared video from the minutes leading up to the shooting. The footage shows Salinas Police Hostage Negotiator Raul Rosales communicating with Rodriguez and saying things like, “Brenda, what can we do to help you today?” And, “I know you want to, you want to build a family. Ok? All relationships have arguments.” Later on in the footage, you hear officers say, “drop the gun” and then gunfire.

According to the DA’s office, Rodriguez held up what turned out to be an airsoft gun four times. District Attorney Jeannine Pacioni says Rodriguez’s boyfriend told police it was a fake gun. But Pacioni said officers were unsure because it didn’t have a bright orange marking on its tip; that’s typical for airsoft guns.  

When Rodriguez pointed the airsoft gun directly at police, three officers fired 18 rounds

“All of the officers stated that they were afraid not only for themselves, but for their other officers and particularly the hostage negotiator officers who were not in a position of protection,” Pacioni says.

The D.A.’s office says the shooting officers are Brian McKinley, Robert Miller and Carlo Caluped. The D.A’s office says none of the shooting officers had body cameras on.

Last month, community members demonstrated at Salinas City Hall to demand justice in this case. The D.A.’s office is still investigating.