The police have never done an adequate job investigating the death of Cody Rodriguez, but his mother will not let the unsolved case go cold.
Ina Mae Rodriguez, of Porcupine, Lakota nation, travelled to Salt Lake City last week to meet with Salt Lake District Attorney Sim Gill. Her demand is the same demand she’s made for nearly 5 years: reopen the investigation into Cody’s death and do it right this time.
On Sept. 10, 2008, at 1:30 in the morning, police were called to an apartment complex in the Rose Park neighborhood of Salt Lake City where Cody had been shot in the back of the head and lay unconscious, barely breathing. He was pronounced dead later at the ER.
There’s some really questionable police work evident from the tiny police report that has been provided to Ina, which she provided to 4Ps. For example, a field lieutenant reports “I observed officers on the west side of the complex interviewing several people who were friends of the deceased,” but this doesn’t seem to have ever actually happened, or at least no record was made of those interviews.
Interviews with witnesses that were easily attainable but not done, or done but not recorded, is a really typical shoddy police-work giveaway. It’s kinda like when you go to a restaurant: check out how clean the bathroom is and imagine how clean the kitchen is based on your observations. When you see police not doing or not recording obviously relevant interviews, expect there to be fire under those smoky puffs of shoddiness.
Another example of a shoddy investigation: one field lieutenant basically moments after arriving to the scene where Cody’s was barely breathing, writes that it was “apparent that Cody shot himself in the head” and thus “there was not a call out for detectives,” while an actual detective—WHO LET HER OUT HERE?—wrote “The location of Cody’s [back-of-the-head] head wounds are somewhat suspicious.”
It doesn’t appear that anything became of Det. Angeline Portel’s suspicions about the location of Cody’s head wound. She now works for the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF), seemingly in Minnesota, but 4Ps hasn’t been able to get contact information for her. The case appears to have been assigned to the completely uninterested Kenneth C. Schoney who basically told the medical examiner what the death certificate should say—suicide—sent a couple photos to the crime lab, and that was it. It doesn’t appear that he actually got out into the community and asked questions of people on the street who might actually have a clue. Nevermind that: Case closed.
4Ps has also been unable to contact Kenneth Schoney.
Sometimes SLCPD does a really amazing job investigating suspicious deaths—so why was Cody given the short shrift? Perhaps it’s that the SLCPD had Cody classified as a gang member, Rose Park North ‘116’. 4Ps is not making any comment on whether Cody was in any gang, or hung out with gang members or whatever—it doesn’t matter much in reference to whether or not the case should be reopened. But know that “gang member” in the mouths of cops usually just refers to poor men of color—to the cops, those young men actually are gang members or know enough of gang members to get themselves classified as one and not worry too much about the details. And once you’re labelled, your rights can be infringed in a variety of ways, including official and explicit ways like the awful gang injunctions like the one in Ogden, and also in subtle, informal ways, like cops doing shoddy investigations into your death after you re killed.
Ina Mae Rodriguez met with Sim Gill on Oct. 11 and demanded that he reopen the case. After a 90-minute meeting, Gill agreed to review the private investigator report that has been compiled since the murder, which concludes that Cody’s body was moved after it was dead. And what’s the-super-CSI scientific method the PI used to conclude that the body was moved? Uh, obvious observation in the photos that there was blood all over the damn place, not just in one pool around Cody where he allegedly shot himself and fell to the floor.
Stay tuned to 4Ps to find out whether Sim Gill and the Salt Lake City Police Department reopen the murder investigation—or whether Ina Mae Rodriguez is going to need your help convincing them.
The video above:
"I Carry His Blood With Me"
Written, Directed and Produced by Wessam AL-Badry and Adam Gutierrez
Photography Wessam AL-Badry
Editor Adam Gutierrez
(C) 2013 Wessam AL-Badry and Adam Gutierrez