The City has agreed to a $1.75 million settlement with Wolfgang Mountford, who received a non-fatal shot to the head by former SMPD officer Eloy Rodriguez in 2019.
The incident took place around 2:15 a.m. on July 14, 2019, when police responded to multiple calls for service regarding a disturbance at 10th St. and Pacific Avenue.
According to SMPD, Mountford was allegedly creating a disturbance by yelling loudly, throwing trash cans around and trying to open car doors. Officers Rodriguez and Matthew Jones had already encountered Mountford once that morning and when they were called back for a second time SMPD said Mountford ran at and struggled with an officer who proceeded to shoot him with a bullet that grazed the back of his head. Mountford was treated on the scene by officers and Santa Monica Fire Department (SMFD) paramedics before being transported to a local hospital.
Mountford, a Van Nuys resident, was charged with resisting, delaying, or obstructing an arrest, vandalism, and assault/battery. On Sept. 9, 2019, he entered a no contest plea to the charge of battery and the remaining counts were dismissed.
On Aug. 11, 2020, Mountford and his attorneys filed a civil complaint against the City of Santa Monica and the SMPD. The complaint claims Mountford was running away from the officers at the time of the shooting.
“Plaintiff was completely running away from Rodriquez and Jones unarmed, with nothing in his hands, and with his back to both defendants. Then Rodriguez turned, pointed his firearm at plaintiff and carelessly, recklessly, maliciously, intentionally, excessively, unnecessarily and violently fired one round, striking plaintiff in the back of the head,” states the complaint.
The City did not admit to guilt in response to the complaint’s allegations, but chose to settle instead of proceeding to a court trial. Following an SMPD investigation into the incident, Officer Rodriguez was terminated from service.
Following the settlement, the City issued a statement saying, “Mountford mostly recovered from the incident but was claiming residual mental and emotional injuries including ongoing cognitive deficits. The case had been set for trial next month. The City does not admit liability, but believes the settlement is in the best interests of the City.”