Vindication: Kicking Cop Cleared

A kick to the head and a high-five between officers may have looked bad, but no crime was committed, according to the DA.

It was the kick seen 'round Southern California, but the District Attorney's office did not see it as any crime.  

At the end of a police chase, television helicopter video shows suspect Richard Rodriguez trying to escape on foot. El Monte Officer George Fierro traps Rodriguez in the walled-in yard of a condominium, where it appears Rodriguez lies down with his arms extended in front of him. A few seconds later, video shows Fierro approaching Rodriguez, kicking him in the head, and later giving a high-five to officer James Singleterry, who arrived to help.

While all that raised questions, and led to a police investigation, the D.A.'s office said the kick was appropriate. Investigators say Rodriguez turned his head toward Fierro, and the officer was justified in fearing the suspect was preparing to get off the ground and attack.

Police said the high-five was not unusual, and that officers often congratulated each other at the end of a dangerous pursuit, especially when no one is injured and the suspects are successfully arrested.

Rodriguez was a known member of the El Monte Flores gang. Documents show Rodriguez told investigators he did not understand why officers kicked him since he was "already down on the floor," but he told investigators he was not willing to testify against the officers.

Critics had argued the kick and high-five constituted police abuse.

Contact Us