The family of a Dallas 12-year-old boy shot and killed by a Dallas police officer in 1973 hopes an apology from the city is the “beginning” of a new era in remembering Santos Rodriguez.
Rodriguez was handcuffed in a patrol car being questioned over an $8 burglary when officer Darrell Cain shot and killed the young man, reportedly while playing Russian Roulette. Cain served half of a 5-year prison sentence for murder.
“He kept on pleading that he was innocent, but they didn’t listen,” said Bessie Rodriguez, Santos’ mother. “I still miss him. It’s a wound that will never get healed.”
The boy’s 13-year-old brother David witnessed the shooting, something the boys’ mother said left him with night terrors and years of psychological treatment.
“I was the one next to him when he was waking up screaming – he really went through a lot,” she said.
Rodriguez said while the family waited for an apology, one didn’t come for 40 years.
“I always ask that same question – why did it take so long?”
That was, until Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings took the stage at Saturday's “Conversations on Race” program, and said the following:
"On behalf of the citizens of Dallas, on behalf of the Dallas City Council, on behalf of the Dallas Police Department, we wholeheartedly apologize for the death of this man."
Rawlings told NBC 5 the following day that he is, “sorry we didn’t do it sooner”.
“I looked at it and said – a simple, ‘I’m sorry, I apologize’ is the least that we can do,” he said.
Rodriguez said she hopes the apology can be the beginning of a new way to remember Santos, specifically, with a remembrance plaque in his name in the Little Mexico neighborhood where he lived, played and passed away.
“It’s the beginning, you know – because we’ve been waiting for so long,” she said. "This is the beginning of something.”