It had always been hard to keep a straight face when typing the words "alleged gang member Richard Rodriguez." The only distributed photograph of Rodriguez, after all, is a police mug shot showing him with the name of an El Monte gang tattooed on his upper lip, along with other tell-tale markings just below his throat. Mr. Rodriguez became famous last May, when TV news footage showed him being kicked, as he lay surrendered on the ground, by a police officer. (That officer, George Fierro, himself became something of a celebrity when it came out he operated a business selling gang-themed T-shirts, although Rodriguez was not seen wearing one at the time of his beating.)
Rodriguez is presently on both ends of court proceedings -- as a
defendant accused of leading police on the high-speed chase that ended
in his being kicked, and as a plaintiff suing El Monte for $5 million.
Rodriguez's lawyer, Nick Pacheco, has plans to transform his client's
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image through a classic makeover. A thick moustache will conceal the
"Flores" gang moniker that presently covers Rodriguez's lip, while a full
head of hair will be allowed to grow over other tattoos that are visible on his shaved head. A conservative suit and tie will do the
rest. Pacheco, a former L.A. City Councilman, provided the Times with Photoshopped Before and After images of Rodriguez to show what the results of his strategy might appear like in court.