There's actually no mountain in El Monte, but that hasn't kept the city

from striving for greatness: “El Monte is home to Longo Toyota,

the number one auto dealer in the United States by sales and volume,”

crows the city's Web site. “Other major retail businesses include Home

Depot, Sam's Club, and Sears Essentials.” “End of the Sante Fe Trail,” reads El Monte's legend on the city seal, whose iconography juxtaposes a covered wagon with what appears to be a shopping mall.

The town has been getting lots more attention, however, because of the end of a high-speed police chase yesterday, in which an El Monte cop kicked the head of suspected gang member Richard  Rodriguez as he lay flat on the ground. (“Suspected” is a bit generous: the booking photo of Rodriguez — not to be confused with the author of Hunger of Memory — reveals the name of a local gang, “Flores,” tattooed in black gothic letters above his upper lip.) The incident was captured in broad daylight on video; penalty flags began showering the grass before the kicking officer had high-fived another cop — which was also caught on camera. According to the Whittier Daily News, a third officer “appeared to pummel” the 23-year-old Rodriguez.

The American Civil Liberties Union quickly issued a statement, attributed to ACLU executive director Ramona Ripston, calling for the unidentified officer's immediate suspension and  urging “the Los Angeles County District Attorney to conduct a full and swift investigation into the actions of the police officer in this incident.” (This was in regards to the kick, not the police ending Rodriguez and a friend's 30 minutes of driving on sidewalks, on the wrong side of roads and against traffic lights.)

The officer in question, of course, became a hero cop to people on the other end of the spectrum.

“I thank the cop for staying the course and find nothing wrong with the kick, the illegal deseved much worse,” commented one L.A. Times reader.

“This police officer deserves a bonus!!…Well done officer!!!” wrote another.


the most off-beat remarks came from retired LAPD training commander

Paul Kim, who offered the cop, through KNBC (the TV station whose

chopper cam recorded the kicking), some professional pointers, noting,

among other things, that the officer risked momentarily losing his

balance by kicking a suspect with gun in hand, and jeopardized his own

safety by not waiting for backup before administering the coup de tete.


now some civic image maker can step forward and give El Monte's

government some advise on how to spin this incident to the city's


LA Weekly