DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) — Though it happened 40 years ago, the night 12-year-old Santos Rodriguez was killed in the back of a Dallas Police car remains a vivid memory for retired Dallas Police Officer Robert Rowe.
”I think it was officer Arnold that came on the radio very quickly, excitedly said,’We’ve got a boy that’s been accidentally shot! And he looks in bad shape,'” Rowe recalled.
Forty years after the tragic death, Rowe attended a memorial for Rodriguez at Pike Park in what used to be known as the “Little Mexico” neighborhood in Dallas. The same neighborhood in which Rodriguez was killed.
On July 24th, 1973 Rodriguez and his brother David were questioned — in their pajamas — handcuffed in the back of a Dallas Police car, about a burglary of $8 in change. Officer Darrell Cain played russian roulette, putting a gun to Rodriguez’s head, hoping to get answers about the burglary.
Cain pulled the trigger on his .357 Magnum, killing Rodriguez while his older brother watched.
Rowe responded minutes after the shooting.
“I saw the boy laying in the backseat all bloody,” Rowe said. “His brother was in the front seat and both of them were handcuffed. There was an officer down on his knees. I found out later it was Cain. He had thrown up and was on his knees crying.”
The killing sparked protests. Four decades later, Rodriguez’s mother is still waiting for an apology from the city of Dallas.
”It’s outrageous that they won’t apologize on behalf of the city to this family for one of the worst crimes in the city’s history.” said Dr. Rick Halparin, a professor of the Practice of Human Rights.
Cain was sentenced to five years in prison, but served only half of it.
Rowe attended the funeral for Rodriguez and now 40 years later, the death of the boy still weighs on his heart.
“I want to show people that at least one officer or there might be other officers here that are sorry about it or ashamed of it 40 years ago,” he said.
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