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Dallas police chief apologizes to mother of 12-year-old murdered by officer nearly 50 years ago

The Hill logo The Hill 7/25/2021 Joseph Choi
a large green field with a city in the background: Dallas police chief apologizes to mother of 12-year-old murdered by officer nearly 50 years ago © Getty Images Dallas police chief apologizes to mother of 12-year-old murdered by officer nearly 50 years ago

Dallas Police Chief Eddie García on Saturday issued a formal apology to the mother of a 12-year-old Mexican-American boy who was killed by a Dallas police officer nearly 50 years ago.

As The Dallas Morning News reports, García issued the apology to Bessie Rodriguez, the mother of 12-year-old Santos Rodriguez, while at a memorial marking the 48th anniversary of his death.

"I realize that we have not healed as a city from the loss of Santos and the manner in which we lost Santos. In order to heal, those who committed the wrong must be contrite," García said.

The killing of Santos shocked the U.S. at the time. Santos and his older brother were taken from their bed in 1973 by a Dallas police officer for an interrogation over the apparent theft of $8 from a gas station vending machine. The officer, Darrell Cain, played Russian roulette, shooting a bullet into Santos' head on the second pull, just after he stated his innocence.

According to the News, Santos' last words were: "I am telling the truth."

Violent protests broke out after Santos was murdered. Cain was charged and convicted of murder with malice, but only served half of a five-year sentence.

"We must apologize as a Police Department, a department made up of mothers, fathers, daughters and sons," García said at the memorial. "On behalf of the Dallas Police Department, as a father, I am sorry. We are sorry that someone trusted to protect you, someone who wore the same uniform I proudly wear today took your son and took David's brother away by way of murder."

The Dallas Morning News reports that after he finished speaking, García walked with Rodriguez and laid a wreath of white carnations on Santos' headstone.

"I have to forgive to be forgiven," Rodriguez said according to the newspaper, adding that she felt García had been "very respectful."

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