By Julia Deng
MIDLAND - The family of a man shot and killed by law enforcement are staging a series of public demonstrations in an effort to "make sure no one else dies like Gino."
49-year-old Gino Rodriguez was fatally shot December 1, following a police standoff that lasted almost four hours.
Mental health officials with the Midland County Sheriff's Department had been dispatched to his home on the 2700 block of Washington Avenue to conduct a welfare check on Rodriguez.
"He had paranoid schizophrenia, so in his eyes, he thought they were out to get him," Adriana Camacho, Rodriguez's niece, said. "Unfortunately, his worst nightmares came true. He feared for his life [and] he hid in his bathroom. In his eyes, he was fighting for his life. And they took it from him."
NewsWest 9 reached out to Midland City representatives. They had no comment Sunday.
In a previous statement, issued shortly after Rodriguez's death, city officials said, "This is not how we want these situations to end. We want them to end without incident and we do everything in our power to make sure that we can try and do it that way first."
Dozens of relatives and community members marched through the streets of Midland Saturday night, holding "Justice for Gino" and "Remember Gino" posters, as part of an ongoing series of demonstrations to shed light on what they call "a problem everywhere in the country."
"If we can bring about change, then his [death] won't be in vain," Yolanda Reyes, Rodriguez's sister, said. "He was mentally ill and they didn't understand how to approach him. Why weren't different negotiation tactics tried? Why wasn't his family allowed to talk to him [during the standoff]?"
Reyes, Camacho and other members of their extended family are pushing for law enforcement agencies nationwide to allocate more resources for crisis-intervention team training.
"We also want [officers] to have a better idea of how to interact with people who are mentally ill," Reyes said. "We had called mental health deputies out there and the situation turned from one thing to a tragedy. His life didn't have to end that way."
Sgt. Mitch Russell and Officer Sean Sharp were placed on paid administrative leave following the shooting, pending completion of an investigation headed by the Texas Rangers.