In 1973, an officer observed David and Santos Rodriguez hanging out behind a gas station. The officer called in the description and two officers, Roy Arnold and Darrell Cain, entered the Rodriguez house and arrested the two brothers. David Rodriguez, Jr, the older brother of Santos testified that the officers handcuffed them behind their backs and that Santos was placed in the front seat of the patrol car with Officer Arnold. Then they were taken back to the gas station where Santos was asked a series of questions.
Officer Cain was in the backseat with David when he took out his pistol, opened the cylinder, and twirled it. David stated that he could see bullets in the cylinder and saw no empty chambers.Cain shut the cylinder and aimed it at Santos’s head, who remained in the front seat. Cain told Santos to tell them if he and his brother had burglarized the service station in which Santos denied. Cain then clicked the pistol, stated that he had a bullet in it and that Santos needed to “tell the truth.” Cain then clicked the gun and the gun fired, striking Santos in the head. Cain jumped out of the patrol vehicle and stated, “Oh, my God.”
At trial, Cain asserted that he unloaded the weapon and tried to “make him tell the truth,” but this was disputed by David who never saw Cain unload the weapon. After the shooting, Cain stated that he reloaded the pistol before another officer took the pistol from him. But the officer, who grabbed Cain’s pistol within eight to ten seconds of shots being fired, unloaded the weapon and found five live rounds and stated he never saw Cain put the bullets back in the pistol. After the shooting, the gas station was dusted for fingerprints and “neither the fingerprints of the deceased nor those of David Rodriguez were found.” Santos and David were most likely innocent, but a twelve-year old, unarmed, handcuffed child was murdered, while his brother, a mere few feet away, watched a police officer carry out the execution.
Protests erupted, one march particularly turned violent, five officers were injured, and more than 30 people arrested. The low sentence—a five-year sentence—for a murder with malice charge of Santos Rodriguez was another stain within the criminal justice system towards the Latino community. Again, the message was clear to many within the community: Latinos, including children, do not have much personal worth.
Injustice in the criminal system is nothing new for Latinos, traffic stop data in 2001 indicated Hispanic drivers in San Diego had a thirty-seven percent greater chance of being stopped compared to white drivers. Further, the study indicated Latino’s success rates for warrants were thirty-six percent whereas whites had a success rate of fifty-three percent. But despite the large difference, Latinos were search warrant subjects in forty-three percent of the cases compared to whites, who were subjects of search warrants in only thirty-five percent of the cases.
Predictably, a 2001 study of the U.S. penal system indicate that Latinos also represent the fastest-growing segment of the U.S. prison population and that Latino men are four times as likely to be sentenced to prison during their lifetime compared to non-Hispanic white males. Further, a study of twelve counties in Texas found that Hispanics represented forty percent of the juvenile population and that forty-three percent of the juveniles had cases adjudicated by the court.
Moreover, Hispanic juveniles were more likely to stand trial as an adult than Whites—even if they were disposed for the same offense, were the same age, and had a similar record in the juvenile system. Most of the juvenile offenders surveyed faced barriers within the school system and half of the offenders experienced hardship within their homes or community. Low educational attainment and high poverty, precursors to hardships within the home and community create a greater likelihood of contact within the criminal justice system. This data conclusively demonstrates that Latinos are facing a discriminatory criminal justice system within their community that needs criminal justice reform.
In Dallas, city and police officials have dramatically reformed the police department’s practices in response to the shooting of Santos Rodriguez. For example, questioning of juveniles now requires a magistrate judge’s approval and in 2013, almost half of the 3,485 sworn police officers are minorities. But changes to the overall police department are not enough, states with a significantly large Latino population that share the overall population like Texas, must shift their focus to Latino children, since these children will someday be the state’s future workers and taxpayers.
 Cain v. State, 549 SW 2d 707, 710 (Tex. Court of Criminal Appeals 1977).
 Id. at 711
 See Silverman, supra note 13.
 Donna Coker, Foreword: Addressing the Real World of Racial Injustice in the Criminal Justice System, 93 J. Crim. L. & Criminology 4 827, 835-837 (2003).
 Michael J. Coyle, Latinos and the Texas Criminal Justice System, National Council of La Raza Statistical Brief, 1-2 (2003) (downloaded at research.policyarchive.org).
 Id. at 10.
 Id. at 3.
 See Silverman, supra note 13.
 See Coyle, supra note 161, at 16.