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Hearing set for El Monte gang member kicked in the head by police

Attorneys consider civil suit
By Rebecca Kimitch, Whittier Daily News Staff Writer

EL MONTE – El Monte Flores gang member Richard Rodriguez, who was famously kicked in the head by an El Monte police officer last month in Pico Rivera, has three lawyers defending him against charges related to the high-speed car chase leading up to the kick.

The trio – which includes a former Los Angeles city councilman, a former public defender and a former deputy district attorney – represented Rodriguez for the first time in court during an arraignment Monday, when a judge set a July 6 preliminary hearing date for Rodriguez’s criminal case.

The attorneys are also investigating whether to file a civil suit against El Monte regarding the televised kick to the head, they said.

“It is the desire of the family to represent him to the best of our ability and to ensure his constitutional rights are protected, and we intend to do so, zealously,” said Rodriguez’s attorney Tomas Requejo, a former public defender, following the court appearance.

Rodriguez, 24, is charged with one felony: evading a police officer, and four misdemeanors: hit-and-run, reckless driving, resisting arrest and driving without a license.

During the chase, Rodriguez reached speeds of 80 mph in a 30 mph zone and at one point drove on the sidewalk and nearly hit a pedestrian.

The chase ended with Rodriguez fleeing on foot before he surrendered in a back yard, lying on the ground in a prone position, when he was kicked in the head.

The officer involved in the kick, identified by sources inside El Monte City Hall as George Fierro, owns an online clothing store that sells attire glorifying the gang lifestyle. Rodriguez’s attorneys are investigating whether their client and the officer had any business relationship before the incident.

“In terms of the officer who kicked Mr. Rodriguez in the head, we are looking into his past, we are looking into any of his business activities that may overlap … we don’t have answers at this moment,” said attorney Nick Pacheco. “We are also looking into and are concerned about, in my viewpoint, the celebration that occurred after the violence waged against Mr. Rodriguez. We are looking at everything broadly right now.”

Pacheco is a former Deputy District Attorney and Los Angeles city councilman who represented a West Covina resident last year in a lawsuit alleging excessive use of police force force by a Covina police officer.

The lawyers were retained only last week, and they are in the process of collecting information surrounding the case.

Requejo said it would be “premature” to decide whether a civil lawsuit would be filed because of the incident.

Rodriguez’s attorneys have submitted a request for “a shopping list of stuff” surrounding the investigation, including officers’ notes and communications, they said.

Requejo said he is confident they will receive most of the information they requested before the July 6 hearing.

In early June, city officials denied a Public Records Act request filed by this newspaper seeking similar documents.

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