Feb 11, 2022 - News

Dallas to dedicate statue honoring Santos Rodriguez

A statue of a smiling boy
The sculpture of Santos Rodriguez by Seth Vandable. Photo: Courtesy of the City of Dallas

The City of Dallas is dedicating a statue Saturday honoring Santos Rodriguez, the 12-year-old boy murdered by a Dallas police officer in 1973 during a Russian-roulette style interrogation.

Why it matters: This is a reckoning for Dallas nearly five decades in the making.

  • The dedication plaque on the statue reads: "The sculpture serves to remind present and future generations that human life and dignity are sacred."

Driving the news: Mayor Eric Johnson, Councilmember Jesse Moreno and a representative of the DPD are scheduled to speak at an event at 10am Saturday in Pike Park, where Santos used to play.

Details: The park is a vestige of the area known as Little Mexico. Today the neighborhood is called Uptown.

  • The six-foot statue depicts a smiling boy with his arms turned toward the sky. It was sculpted by artist Seth Vandable and paid for by the city.

Background: Santos and his 13-year-old brother David were taken from their beds, handcuffed and put into the back of a police car as officers investigated a gas station burglary. Officer Darrell Cain put a gun to Santos' head and told him to confess, then pulled the trigger twice.

  • The second time, the gun went off, killing Santos as David watched.
  • Cain was convicted of murder and sentenced to five years, but served just over two. He died in 2019.
  • Police Chief Eddie Garcia publicly apologized to Santos' mother, Bessie, at a memorial last summer.

The intrigue: Bessie and David never received any victims' compensation from the city or the police department. It's unclear if city leaders — who just approved a plan to spend billions on a new convention center a few miles from where Santos was murdered — will change that.

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