RIVERSIDE, California – A former Southern California sheriff’s deputy who was previously cleared of wrongdoing has been arrested and charged with the murder of the father of his lover’s children.
Former Deputy Oscar Rodriguez, 36, was arrested Thursday in the 2014 shooting death of Luis Carlos Morin Jr., the Riverside County district attorney’s office said in a statement.
Luis Carlos Morin Jr. was fatally shot in Coachella on Jan. 27, 2014, by Deputy Oscar Rodriguez.
Prosecutors had previously determined that Rodriguez was justified in shooting Morin while attempting to arrest him on a warrant. But they reopened the case after learning through a civil lawsuit filed by Morin’s family that Rodriguez was intimately involved with the mother of Morin’s children, officials said.
Morin’s family soon filed a civil suit against Riverside County, alleging that Rodriguez was in an intimate relationship with Diana Perez, the mother of Morin’s children, according to ABC 7.
The suit also claimed that Rodriguez was hiding in the bushes when Morin came home that night. Rodriguez allegedly approached him from behind, kicked him in the back of the knees then held him down to the ground while firing one shot into his back, killing him.
Based on new information, the incident became a murder investigation, officials said. After an investigation involving the District Attorney’s Office and the sheriff’s department, a grand jury indicted Rodriguez for murder.
“This was a love triangle,” said Riverside County District Attorney Mike Hestrin. “The deputy was on-duty, but he was not acting in the course of his duty. He was taking care of personal things that he was trying to do.”
Rodriguez was indicted on one charge of murder and use of a firearm. He is scheduled to appear in court in Indio on Friday.
Also charged was the woman Rodriguez was intimately involved with, Diana Perez. Perez, 39, was also arrested Thursday on a charge of being an accessory to murder. She is expected to be arraigned Jan. 3
John Hall, a spokesman for the district attorney’s office, could not immediately explain what led the agency to absolve Rodriguez in the first place in August 2015.
District Attorney Mike Hestrin told reporters the case was an isolated incident involving a “rogue deputy.”
“There was no evidence of any wrongdoing or any cover-up by the sheriff’s department,” he told reporters.
The sheriff’s department declined to comment and referred all questions to the district attorney’s office.
The shooting occurred Jan. 27, 2014, after Morin returned to his mother’s home in Coachella — a desert city southeast of Palm Springs — from attending a family birthday party.
Rodriguez tried to detain 39-year-old Morin from behind and then held him on the ground after Morin fell, firing at least one shot, Morin’s family said in federal court filings.
Rodriguez claimed in court papers to have shot Morin in self-defense after trying to arrest him on two warrants.
The county agreed to pay Morin’s family nearly $7 million to settle the suit in October 2015.
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