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Marlon Joel Rodas-Sanchez (left) poses with his mother, Lorena, in this undated photo

The mother of the 16-year-old Salinas boy killed by Salinas police last month says a witness told her the boy was unarmed when he was shot, having dropped the knife that he had been waving around outside his residence, but the Monterey County District Atttorney’s Office says the evidence contradicts her.

Lorena Rodas said a man who was at the Terrace Avenue residence when Marlon Rodas-Sanchez was killed said he had watched as fire fighters used a fire hose to try to dislodge the knife. She indicated he wasn’t sure whether the stream of water had knocked the weapon from the boy’s hand but the witness told her the boy was unarmed when he was shot after walking into the home.

“That’s what the man told me and he told the same thing to his father,” Rodas said. “The man said he didn’t have the knife when he went inside, because the knife was outside.”

Assistant District Attorney Berkley Brannon, however, said body camera footage from the event shows that the boy was armed when he was shot.

“There’s a lot of body cam footage, and I’ve seen enough to say that that (the mother’s account) is not true,” Brannon said Thursday.

Largely because of disputes over officer-involved shootings nationally, Salinas police like many of their counterparts now carry small video cameras on their uniforms. Most police agencies, Salinas included, have not settled on procedures on when and how footage from those cameras are to be made public. Salinas police spokesman Spencer Critchley suggested last month that the video from the Jan. 18 shooting will be made available at some point.

Marlon was shot to death Jan. 18 after officers were dispatched to the residence after being told he was carrying a butcher knife and acting irrationally. Deputy District Attorney Ed Hazel said earlier that 14 officers responded to the call. He said the boy was tased and shot with rubber bullets before the fire hose was turned on him.

A recording of the police dispatch tape indicates that officers repeatedly told the boy to drop the weapon and that he would not respond. Officers reported that he repeatedly appeared to be sharpening the knife on cement and talking to himself. A witness, believed to be the man Marlon’s mother spoke with, later said the boy was high on drugs of some sort.

Rodas, the mother, told a Spanish-language translator for the Partisan in a telephone interview that she had few details about the incident. She lives in the San Jose area and her husband, who lived with the boy, wasn’t home at the time of the shooting.

“The truth is I don’t know how to explain it very well because I wasn’t there. His dad wasn’t there either. He was working, but just before this happened, (Marlon) was with me. He left on Monday and I didn’t see him again until he was in a box. And they wouldn’t let me even identify him at the morgue. That seems very strange to me because as his parents, we would recognize him. I didn’t see him until he was at the funeral home.”

Rodas said the funeral home told her that Marlon had been shot eight times, once in the heart. Authorities said earlier that he was shot six times by an automatic rifle and twice by a handgun.

She said most of her information came from the man who was at the house at the time. She said he told her he didn’t see officers using a taser or rubber bullets but did see the fire hose.

“He said that was the only thing he saw that they used. My son was very thin and small, just a child. If you saw his picture you’d see.”

On the dispatch tape, officers can be heard saying a taser had been used but that it was ineffective.

Rodas said she feels she disrespected by authorities.

“They left everything destroyed (in the house), the blood and all. It’s not right to leave things like that. It’s been 19 days now and we are all destroyed. We’re so sad. What I want is to have justice. They haven’t even given me his clothes that he wore.

“The funeral home gave me his rosary. And two little earrings. The funeral home gave me that. The police still have his phone and his clothes. I don’t know why they won’t give them to me.”

She continued, in Spanish, “The police didn’t say anything. Only that they are investigating. The officer said the investigation could take months or years. That’s what he told me.”

She said she has an appointment with a lawyer next month.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • john moore February 9, 2017, 1:15 pm

    I don’t know the truth in this and many other cases, but I continue to be bewildered by so many police shootings ending in death rather than a disabling shot.

    I put in some time as a trial lawyer in the Santa Clara District Atty’s office. During that time I also taught criminal law and evidence at a police academy. All of my students were police officers and candidates for police positions. Many higher ranking officers attended my classes and I always and carefully taught that in a case where the police had overwhelming force they should wound the victim to the least extent reasonable in the circumstances to take custody.

    In this case the police were close enough to taze the boy which did not dis-arm him, why not just shoot him in the thigh. But shoot him six to eight times??

  • Helga Fellay February 9, 2017, 2:05 pm

    This child – and I say child, because a small, frail-looking 16-year old is not a man and does not look like a man – was murdered by those with a blanket License to Kill. Fourteen (14) militarized police officers, armed to the teeth, were SO afraid of this child that they had to fire 8 rounds, one through the heart, to protect themselves? And they dare call themselves men? The boy did not have a bomb, he had a knife, for God’s sake. If he is unresponsive to commands because he either does not understand English or is too much under the influence of a substance and “out of it” to know what’s going on, shoot at the hand holding the knife, the arm, but why aim at the head or the heart? There is no justification for that! None! If we want to call ourselves a “civilized” nation, something needs to change, and soon.

  • Dan Turner February 9, 2017, 2:09 pm

    If the police in Russia did things like this – so common in our country but until very recently, due to the ubiquity of i-phone cameras, denied by white folks and never discussed – we would be all over them for being barbaric thugs. Its a good thing we’re exceptional and, therefore, not barbaric thugs because, if we weren’t exceptional, we have to think about what kind of people we are who have created a society like this and seem either not to care, or bereft of any ideas about how, or what, to change.

  • Jean February 9, 2017, 2:23 pm

    Salinas had FOURTEEN officers to deploy to control one youngster with a butcher knife? Salinas either has too many officers on the payroll or doesn’t know how to effectively manage its resources. Forrest Gump was right. “Stupid is as stupid does.”

  • jim guy February 9, 2017, 2:40 pm

    Is the Spanish language transcript available?

    • Royal Calkins February 9, 2017, 5:36 pm

      No. The translator took notes in Spanish and translated those into English for me. (The translator is a highly experienced bilingual reporter)

  • Luana Conley February 9, 2017, 3:08 pm

    Spencer Critchely, Monterey County’s John Yoo.

  • Louis MacFarland February 9, 2017, 3:21 pm

    Headline “Mother says boy shot by Salinas police was unarmed….”, then article goes on to explain she was not even there…..

    Headline should say witness says……instead of trying to draw on the mother’s loss to pump up the headline.

    • Royal Calkins February 9, 2017, 5:35 pm

      Wasn’t trying to pump up anything. Could have said “Mother says witness says….” but that would be more than a little awkward.

    • Dan Turner February 9, 2017, 8:59 pm

      A kid is killed – who didn’t have to be killed at all – and all you have to say is the mother wasn’t even there. Do you think the kid got what he deserved?
      Also, last time there was an article on The Partisan about one of these police homicides, I asked why a net couldn’t be used in cases where there is no gun involved and the person isn’t running around crazy. I ask the same thing here. What is so difficult about throwing a net over someone armed w/a knife or a tire iron? Especially if you have a whole bunch of cops there – 5, 10 14. How about a net 10 feet wide w/5 foot long poles attached to the corners. The cops wouldn’t have to get w/in 10 feet of the person. Does anyone know if there some reason that a net wouldn’t work?

  • lia February 9, 2017, 4:53 pm

    14 officers as well as fire dept. personnel for a tiny person w a knife?! How is it a powerful firehose didn’t knock the child down and dislodge the weapon? Wouldn’t a skilled police officer or two be able to knock a knife out of a small person’s hand with batons?

    How many taxpayer dollars were spent on this tragic episode? Critchley? Critchley?

  • Karl Pallastrini February 9, 2017, 7:30 pm

    Never fails to amaze me. Grown men can’t handle a small adolescent who has only a knife to wield without killing him. John Helga and Dan have it right. In so many words…why on earth would they not shoot to disable? A shot to the legs or arms would have had a serious impact on the youngster to continue. Another simple option would be to wait him out. Time is on the side of law enforcement. We are not cops, and clearly not experts on how to handle these kind of situations. Common sense should prevail with the idea of saving a life, rather than ending a situation like this with several weapons fired to “control” the situation. 8 shots evidenced by the morgue, 6 claimed by Salinas PD. Looks like a lot of adrenalin was involved in this one.

    • Dan Turner February 9, 2017, 9:07 pm

      ” We are not cops, and clearly not experts on how to handle these kind of situations.”
      The cops obviously aren’t expert in these matters either – although they should be. And as long as they have impunity (they never get punished for these barbarous acts that a properly trained cop – which, to my way of thinking, includes inculcating respect for human lives which these cops certainly do not have to the degree that I’d like to see – would almost never commit) nothing will change.

  • jim guy February 10, 2017, 2:29 pm

    What kind of knife are we talking about? Is it a swiss army knife or a serious, Bowie-type knife? I don’t know what happened, but it seems some here are pretty sure about how they would disarm a knife-wielding individual. At close quarters, a knife is a match for a firearm, if it’s in the right hands. Just something to ponder. Also wonder about the size and stature of the deceased. Some pretty serious warriors around the world are just 16 years old, ya know.
    My understanding of Cal Peace Officer training standards is that police are allowed to escalate use of force levels above that available to the person they are trying to arrest. So is this a problem with training, rather tha an abuse of force.
    Just questions…

    • Helga Fellay February 10, 2017, 3:52 pm

      for Christ’s sake, Jim, look at the picture of the kid standing next to his mother and little brother. Does he look to you like the Incredible Hulk to cause 14 heavily armed police officers to be scared out their wits? If they are that cowardly they don’t belong on the force. It said that the kid had a kitchen knife.

  • jim guy February 10, 2017, 4:00 pm

    Helga, Just asking questions. I don’t have a dog in the fight. But when was the photo taken?

    • Royal Calkins February 10, 2017, 11:25 pm

      As the cutline says, the photo is undated. could have been taken a month ago, maybe years ago.

      • Helga Fellay February 11, 2017, 4:36 pm

        not too many years, he was only 16. I seriously doubt that this petite Latina mother produces sons who look like the Incredible Hulk at age 16 (to scare the living daylights out of 14 (!) heavily armed police to the point they had to kill him to save their lives, because he had a kitchen knife in his hand – allegedly). Puleeze!

  • bill leone February 10, 2017, 4:37 pm

    Terrible tragedies like this rarely happen in higher income zip codes.
    More proof that being born & raised in poverty, or as a person of color, can be a death sentence….at least a precursor to a much shorter life-span, like 20+ years shorter.

  • Karl Pallastrini February 10, 2017, 7:54 pm

    Consider the training videos that we have seen regarding Police Dogs and their handlers. The Handler (Officer) is heavily clad in clothing and equipment that mitigates the dogs bite. Why not use the same equipment in a situation like this? The attack dog has to be an equal adversary as a young skinny kid, on drugs or not, regardless of the size of the knife.

    • Jim guy February 11, 2017, 8:14 am

      That seems worth consideration IMO. I believe the response might be that if the knife wielder posed an imminent threat to other citizens, cops wouldnt have time to wait for the specially clad Michelin Man to show up. What I cant tell about this case is whether the knife wielder was threat to other citizens.

  • bill leone February 11, 2017, 8:18 am

    Of course, in England, & other Civilized countries, the police do not have guns at all….unless there is an unusually dangerous situation. This could never be the case in the US, because the gun industry has convinced a large, neurotic & vocal segment of our population that each & every citizen has the God-Given Right to carry an assault weapon. Contrary to the nonsense that many ill-informed Conservatives propagate, Australia (not Austria), had similar problems, until they banned firearms. Since then, gun deaths of all kinds, including episodes of police killing citizens, has approached zero. We need to register, track, regulate, tax & insure the possession & use of All guns, as we do cars, trucks, alcohol, cigarettes, (& soon) marijuana.

    • jim guy February 11, 2017, 2:55 pm

      That’s a sure-fire way to kill a discussion LOL.

  • bill leone February 11, 2017, 8:23 am
  • David Norum February 12, 2017, 6:28 am

    I was a cop in Monterey County for 24 years. I faced down numerous people armed with guns knives bats or other deadly weapons. I never shot or was involved in a shooting of any of them. That being said anyone who comes up with a definitive statement about what the police should have done based on a short news story or an “eyewitness” account is merely reacting with emotion and ignorance. I believe police should be better trained and investigations need to be more transparent but ill-informed opinions are like……Well you know how to finish that.

    • Helga Fellay February 12, 2017, 7:09 pm

      I am reacting with emotion – yes; with ignorance – no. WHY is it that only in America do children
      [Tamir Rice, very small for age 12] playing with a toy gun in a playground gets killed the very second a cop drives up, even without being first asked “son, put that thing down” and given the opportunity to obey, and it’s ok? Why is that ok? Why is it that Black and Latino kids get shot for holding a cell phone in their hands, or running away without anything in their hands, or holding up both hands in surrender, get killed by police, who are never held responsible? David, I am very glad you never killed anyone, and you have apparently been a good cop and did the right thing, but when defending what is happening on American streets with a militarized police apparently given carte blanche to kill at will, you are not doing the right thing, you are doing the wrong thing. If we are “ignorant” as you say, why is that? If the police did the right thing, transparency would be the order and we would all know exactly what went on. But we are not allowed to know what went on. Why is that? What are they hiding? Bystanders recording events on their i-phones and putting the videos on social media are being arrested and persecuted for showing us on social media what went on. Why is that? Asking these questions, and drawing conclusions about the need to ask them, is not based on ignorance. I have nothing against cops per se. I hope that the majority are good people doing a very dangerous job because they want to serve and do the right thing. But holding the bad apples accountable for what is poisoning the pool, instead of making excuses for them, is also the right thing to do.

  • David Norum February 12, 2017, 9:08 am

    To clarify, my previous comment was not directed at veteran journalists Royal, Larry and the others in this blog. The three articles written on this shooting , and the articles other police shootings and issues,are important. Although I don’t always agree with what is written here, journalists provide a much needed cynical look at our government, especially needed in this day and age. My comments referred to a few reader comments, and to the plethora of ignorant reactionary automatically anti-police blogs, sites and columns that exist and thrive.

  • bill leone February 13, 2017, 12:25 pm

    Ah yes, the Government (again) is the problem! True, The Government is responsible for The Budget, which allocates funds to train & equip police, as well as provide citizen oversight, to prevent racism, bigotry & Right-Wing Politics from infiltrating the law enforcement arm of The Government.
    However, The Government is influenced by other factors. That is why Del Rey Oaks, an upper-income, predominantly White zip code, owns a Military Assault Vehicle, & Del Rey Oaks Police regularly collect city revenue in the speed trap on Carlton Drive. If you know anyone who lives in DRO, do ask them if they know any residents of that town who have ever received a speeding ticket on that street. The answer will probably be no; however, that would Not be true if you asked the same question of Seaside residents. Furthermore, that is why Del Rey Woods Elementary School is over 90% Hispanic & minorities, while children who live across the Street from that school in DRO are bused to Foothill Elementary School, nearly a mile away.
    Moreover, it was the decision of the Seaside Government to fund police officers in Crisis Intervention
    Training, in order to reduce the number of sense-less murders of citizens who are mentally ill.
    Government decisions may contribute to the problem under discussion; on the other hand, it is underlying inequality & bigotry in our society that influence The Government. For example, it was a wealthy, part-time Monterey resident who “donated” the MRAP. And it was a resident of Pebble Beach who influenced the DRO City Council to permit the opening of a Medical Marijuana shop on the Monterey, Seaside, DRO border (there are no Medical Marijuana stores in Seaside).
    Yes, I agree, we must take a cynical look at the Government, as well as the forces that are influencing Government’s decisions.

    • jim guy February 13, 2017, 5:39 pm

      Who paid for that fricken black helicopter, though?

  • bill leone February 24, 2017, 2:46 pm

    Are you referring to these Black Helicopters?