A police shooting in Orlando, Florida, claimed the life of a 22-year old college student, Maria Godinez, on August 19, when police confronted a man said to be brandishing a gun at a bar in the city. But though Godinez was an innocent bar patron who was struck with an errant police bullet, police hit the alleged gun-wielding man with first-degree murder charges — even though he never fired a shot.
There is also some question as to whether Kody Roach, 23, was in possession of a gun when police officer Eduard Sanguino opened fire on him with nine shots at about 12:45 am. At least five of those bullets hit Roach, who was later hospitalized in critical conditon. One of the shots ricocheted and struck Sanguino’s fellow officers, Lt. Frank Nunez, in the leg.
But another bullet went astray and hit Godinez, who was inside the bar enjoying a night out with friends, in the shoulder. The young woman, who grew up in Cocoa, Florida, after emigrating from Guatelmala as a small child, collapsed and later died at a nearby hospital.
But on Tuesday, police charged Roach, who is still in the hospital, with first degree murder in the death of Maria Godinez, saying that he initiated the confrontation that led to her accidental killing.
On August 19, Orlando police received an emergency call from someone working at the Vixen Bar in downtown Orlando, reporting a “gun wielding maniac,” who was thrown out of the bar after brandishing his firearm inside.
But according to WMKG Channel 6 News, surveillance video from the bar shows Roach dropping his gun after being ejected from the bar. The news report did not say whether the bar video showed Roach picking the gun up again.
When police officers arrived on the scene, they found Roach attempting to open the locked door of the bar, trying to get back inside.
According to a police report, Roach then pulled up his shirt with his left hand while reaching for his waistband with his right.
However, Roach never fired a shot if indeed he still had a gun on him at all. Sanguino and another officer, Jeff Angel, immediately opened fire on Roach, felling him.
The police report says that Roach then crumpled to the ground, and at the same time, a.40 caliber Ruger pistol fell from his grip. He never fired the weapon during the incident.
“The preliminary indication is that during the situation a bullet was discharged from Officer Eduardo Sanguino’s firearm and fatally struck Maria inside the establishment,” said Orlando Police Chief John Mina in a statement. “The Orlando Police Department is committed to a full investigation to understand how this tragedy happened.”
Roach was initially charged only with carrying a concealed weapon. On Tuesday he was hit with armed burglary and armed trespassing charges. Under the law, a person can be charged with first-degree murder if they cause a death in the process of committing a felony, though that law is not often used to hold a suspect responsible for a police shooting.