Four Decades Later, the City Still Won't Apologize for Santos Rodriguez's Murder

Categories: News

SantosRodriguezHor.jpg
Santos Rodriguez
Yesterday marked 40 years since Dallas police officer Darrell Cain handcuffed 12-year-old Santos Rodriguez in a squad car and shot him in the head while trying to force him to confess to stealing a few bucks from a vending machine. Rodriguez's death sparked outrage, which ultimately prompted significant reforms to the Dallas Police Department. What it never yielded was a formal apology from the city.

For the family, friends, and activists who gathered Wednesday by Rodriguez's grave at South Dallas' Oakland Cemetery, Cain's five-year murder sentence and a 20-year-old declaration of July 24, 1993 as Santos Rodriguez Day aren't enough. They want Dallas to say it's sorry.

"I just want to reiterate how necessary it is for this apology to happen for this family," Rick Halperin, the head of SMU's human rights program and a co-organizer of the memorial, told the mourners. "Not only so this family can go forward in peace and dignity but so this city can move forward."

See also

-40 Years Ago, a Dallas Cop Shot a Handcuffed 12-Year-Old in the Head. Hispanic Leaders Haven't Forgotten.

Contacted by The Dallas Morning News, city spokesman Frank Librio sent a copy of the 1993 resolution. Halperin called the response "inept" and "pathetic."

We can only speculate as to why the city refuses to say its sorry, which would be a simple thing. Maybe it feels the 1993 resolution, which pledges to never let something similar happen again, is enough. Maybe it's that an apology would suggest that Rodriguez's death was the fault of city policy rather than a rogue cop. Whatever the case, the answer is still a chilly "No."

That's a bit like salt on the wound for Bessie Rodriguez, Santos' mother. "I am left with a deep emptiness way down in my soul," she said at yesterday's service, according to WFAA. "I don't sleep at night. I have dreams of him playing outside with my other children."

My Voice Nation Help
25 comments
fratdawgg23
fratdawgg23

In 1970 Darrell Cain shot a black 18 yr old *in the back* and was not punished, case closed. 

In 1973, Cain tries to induce a confession from a 12 yr old boy by playing a Hitlerian game of Russian roulette. The second squeeze of the trigger fires the hand cannon, blowing apart Santos' head.

Who knows how many other innocent people Cain may have successfully terrorized to induce a confession. He sounds like a psychopath who enjoyed torturing vulnerable people. 




STOP
STOP

As a citizen, I am truly sorry that that this happened to your son, brother, cousin, uncle, grandson, however, I have no doubt that whoever was in charge at the time, at the City of Dallas in the Police Department, gave the Rodriguez family their sincerest heartfelt apology. 

Halperin is misguided by using the Rodriguez family and this 40 year old tragedy, for PR purposes.  Is it to prove how much SMU loves Hispanics? Before SMU staffers start publicly demanding absolution, take a look at the institutions own reflection in the mirror first, in regards to its hiring practices from professors to administrative assistants, your own history regarding minority student admissions and the divisive campus and non-profit culture, in Dallas, that perpetuates and percolates just under the surface, with the help your alumni and the media.

Hispanic people are not simple minded, so please stop treating us like we are.  If you want to show how much you respect little Santos' memory, let him rest and let's move forward. Ethnic and racial challenges won't happen from the bottom up. It can only happen from the top down and all of our local universities, seems like a good place to start.

Be the change you wish to see, SMU.

Tom434
Tom434

If you didn't live in Dallas at the time you can find the Court of Criminal Appeals decision on line and review the facts.  The prosecutor was Doug Mulder made infamous by the movie The Thin Blue Line, but he got a conviction in this case.  The case is also notable that the defense tried to introduce the results of a statement under truth serum that supposedly supported the defendants claim that he thought he had unloaded the gun.  This was probably the first time in years an officer had been convicted of anything.

I doubt anyone with DPD was on the force in 1973.  Did Cain ever issue an apology and what happened to him?


Marilyn Clark
Marilyn Clark

Steve the young man was on the right path of being a great citizen if he had not been shot down. The crime lab later proved that the finger prints on the soda machine were NOT those of Santos or his brother David. They did not make a bad choice. They were home with their grandfather living in their home near Cedar Springs.

Tony Harvot
Tony Harvot

Is that Pedro from Napoleon Dynamite?

Marcus Aurelius
Marcus Aurelius

i read that the police department and the police chief worked with the hispanics to make much needed changes. as a hispanic my opinion is that it should b remembered only to remind us of the progress made. actions speak louder than words. so there is really no need for an official apology 40 yrs after the tragedy.

Tim.Covington
Tim.Covington

I heard about this the other day on KERA. I still can't get over the fact that the officer was sentenced to 5 years in what was a cold blooded murder. I think a simple apology would not be out of the question. But. I also agree with the statement that it would be hollow. This would be an apology from people who had nothing to do with the child's murder.

Marcus Aurelius
Marcus Aurelius

Its a story known to hispanics. im a year older than u and hav heard about it for a long time. but im hispanic though. good article.

Steve Handy
Steve Handy

How was it the cities fault? I agree the sentence was extremely weak, and did not fit the crime, but what did the city have to do with what that moronic cop did? Why must we always feel the need to hold entire entities accountable for the actions of individuals? Yes it's a tragedy, but so is the path that this young man appeared to be on. How about we address that? Why is it we are compelled to blame people's bad choices on their environments and yet do nothing to combat those environments? The article that was published the other day was full of references to various Latinos and Latino groups, but didn't mention much about any other groups. Why is that? This is how things like this get swept under the rug; they are marketed to specific groups and they alienate everyone else. All of Dallas should have been in an uproar over a murdered 14 year old, but when you involve the race baiters, and make it a Latino issue, then a lot of folks just tune it out. It doesn't need to be a Latino issue, it needs to be a human issue...

Jim Davis
Jim Davis

This has been OVER for a long time....move along...

logic4dallas
logic4dallas

It's been 40 years. The leadership and mentality that were in place that created an environment where any officer believed that doing such a thing was an option is long gone. They should have apologized then. However, to apologize now would just be an empty gesture. Even if the city leader making the gesture was sincere and truly sorry that the event happened, they had absolutely nothing to do with it so the apology would be a PR checklist item with no real impact or point. It would be akin to the current South African leaders apologizing to black South Africans for apartheid. Bringing stories forth to remember and honor the victim is an honorable and healthy work of journalism...bringing stories forth to create division, distrust, and ill will with no real purpose other than to sell ad space is the worst kind of journalism and at the root of so much of our countries issues today.

I long for the days that the Media reported what happened and not the version of what happened they believed would create the most discourse and sell the most ads. Unfortunately, the Media themselves aren't completely to blame, we as the consumers are complicit in the murder of good journalism. The Big Mac is nutritional poison that any doctor would tell you is going to kill you, but it is one of the best selling sandwiches out there so evidentially we want poison more than substance...same goes for our current version of "journalism".

Tommy Tsang
Tommy Tsang

heard about this on NPR yesterday. The cop, playing russian roulette, killed the boy and only served 4 years. Not sure if the family sued...

Camille Cain
Camille Cain

I was born at St. Paul's Hospital in 1970....Have lived here all of my life (except for 4 yrs away at college), and have never heard of this incident, until I saw the NPR story, yesterday. I've been hearing about another notorious killing in Dallas, for as long as I can remember... Shoot, you all at the Observer have even found a way to humorously weave that memory into our collective consciousness ~ "City of Ate", photos of Oswald, etc. ~ However, not even a whisper of this incident, in 40 yrs of life here. Wow. We've still got a loooooong way to go, in our efforts to be a great city/community of neighbors, folks. One that honors/remembers its past - good, bad & ugly. Wow.

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

Isn't it nice to know we live in a city where the "leaders" are so mature and compassionate?  Snark. 

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

@STOP Uh.... the cop got five years for cold-blooded murder.  Stop making excuses for those cretins who didn't have the decency to reach out to the family.  It's a disgrace and the family should have sued for millions.

GeorgeB123
GeorgeB123

@logic4dallas  I don't think you missed the point. Spot on excellent comments. I lived in Dallas when it happened. Times have clearly changed for the better. An apology now would be hollow. 

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

@logic4dallas Did you miss the point of the article?  The family is looking for some kind of closure to this open wound.  If you've ever been the victim of a terrible injustice you would understand how much it means to have this gesture made.  The fact that the original perps are long gone is irrelevant.  They were agents of the city of Dallas.

DirtyP1
DirtyP1

@Myrna.Minkoff-Katz the leaders now are closer to the age of the deceased more than anything else. Why not make accountable and get an "I'm sorry" from anyone that was culpable at that point in time? Do we require German and Japanese governments to apologize still for what happened during WWII? 

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

@DirtyP1 @Myrna.Minkoff-Katz  

We are still waiting for Japan's apologies for a number of atrocities during WWII.  In particular, look at what happened during the last meeting of the Bataan Death March Survivors.  Basically, a bunch of 80+ year old, infirm, crippled veterans, ran a lower level Japanese functionary out of the room when he stated that the Japanese government regretted that some untoward incidents may have occurred then.

We still have to put up with the b*77$h1t that the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were "victims" and the United States is still expected to apologize to them.


German students are required by law to learn of the atrocities committed by the Nazis during WWII.


There is a big difference between institutionalized atrocities and mistakes.  Did the policemen in the Rodriguez murder mean to kill Rodriguez?  I seriously doubt it.  However, he was incredibly stupid for doing what he did.

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

@Myrna.Minkoff-Katz  

Myrna, the world is a far different place today than it was back then.

The officer was convicted of murder and sentenced to 5 years. Granted that isn't much today but back then it was quite the deal.

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

@ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul The family has been waiting for this bit of justice for forty years.  It's been denied to them by the city officials in charge at the time, the officials in the years since, and the ones who sit up there now.  The family didn't just wake up today and demand an apology.

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

@Myrna.Minkoff-Katz  

I don't see your point.  As a matter of fact the Japanese have only apologized for only a few specific atrocities that they committed in WWII.  The students in Germany are required by law to be taught about the Holocaust and other Nazi atrocities.

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

It's always a lame comeback (and a fallacy of logic) to make a comparison to a completely irrelevant event.  I think they call it False Analogy.

Now Trending

Dallas Concert Tickets

From the Vault

 

Loading...