On March 14, 2017, a pregnant 16 year old girl, Elena Mondragon, was shot and killed by two Fremont, California police officers. She was considered an innocent victim bystander when Fremont police took part in executing an arrest warrant for Rico Tiger. Tiger was wanted for several armed robberies that occurred in Santa Clara and Alameda counties. Tiger was behind the wheel of a stolen BMW.
Plain clothed officers in tactical vests surrounded the stolen vehicle after it was blocked in. Tiger claimed he did not realize he was surrounded by police officers and put the vehicle in reverse and accelerated toward one of the undercover vehicles. When the stolen vehicle then moved toward two police officers, Sgt. Jeremy Miskella and Det. Joel Hernandez, the two fired on the vehicle. The officers who fired the shots did not have their body cameras on at the time and three other officers weren’t wearing them according to the district attorney’s report.
Mondragon was shot five times and died. The driver was not injured, but was ultimately charged with murder over Mondragon’s death.
Fremont Police Named as Defendant in Civil Rights Lawsuit
Fremont police policy states that officers in the path of an approaching vehicle shouldn’t shoot at it or the occupants. Instead, they should focus on getting out of the way. Mondragon’s family filed a lawsuit against Fremont policy, alleging that Elena Mondragon’s civil rights were violated. Mondragon’s sister, Christina Flores, stated that “Every day without her is hard. We feel we got robbed and that it was preventable. She should’ve been taken care of by the police…They are not being held accountable.”
John Burris, attorney for the family, stated that, “We have real concerns about the police officers’ conduct, which was extremely reckless, negligent, and done with disregard for human lives. Police, without any regard for the occupants in the car, shot into a moving car, contrary to good police practices, resulting in the death of Elena, who was an innocent person.”
Mondragon’s mother, Michelle Mondragon, said, “It hurts to accept that no one has owned it.” She wasn’t told about her daughter’s death until the following day despite the incident.