RIVERSIDE, Calif. – A former Southern California sheriff's deputy who was previously cleared of wrongdoing had bail set at $1 million on Friday after he was charged with the murder of the father of his lover's children.
Former Riverside County sheriff's Deputy Oscar Rodriguez, 36, was arrested Thursday in the 2014 shooting death of Luis Carlos Morin Jr., the Riverside County district attorney's office said in a statement.
The district attorney's office had previously determined that Rodriguez was justified in shooting Morin while attempting to arrest him on a warrant. But authorities reopened the case after learning through a civil lawsuit filed by Morin's family that Rodriguez was intimately involved with the mother of Morin's children, officials said.
"Based on additional information, we realized this was not an officer-involved shooting review, it was a murder investigation," the statement said.
Rodriguez was indicted earlier this month on one charge of murder and use of a firearm and could face up to life in prison if convicted. On Friday, Rodriguez's arraignment was put off until Jan. 3 and his bail was set at $1 million.
Also charged was the woman Rodriguez was intimately involved with, Diana Perez. Perez, 39, was also arrested Thursday on a charge of being an accessory to murder. She also is expected to be arraigned Jan. 3
It was not immediately known which attorneys were representing Rodriguez and Perez. A message was left for attorney Douglas Smith, who handled Rodriguez's civil case.
John Hall, a spokesman for the district attorney's office, could not immediately explain what led the agency to absolve Rodriguez in the first place in August 2015.
District Attorney Mike Hestrin told reporters the case was an isolated incident involving a "rogue deputy."
"There was no evidence of any wrongdoing or any cover-up by the sheriff's department," he told reporters.
The Sheriff's Department declined to comment and referred all questions to the district attorney's office.
The shooting occurred Jan. 27, 2014, after Morin returned to his mother's home in Coachella — a desert city southeast of Palm Springs — from attending a family birthday party.
Rodriguez tried to detain 39-year-old Morin from behind and then held him on the ground after Morin fell, firing at least one shot, Morin's family said in federal court filings.
Rodriguez claimed in court papers to have shot Morin in self-defense after trying to arrest him on two warrants.
The county agreed to pay Morin's family nearly $7 million to settle the suit in October 2015.