Remembering Santos Rodriguez: A Life Lost to Police Brutality

A statue of Santos Rodriguez, a 12-year-old boy who was murdered by a Dallas Police officer 50 years ago on July 24, 1973, has been recently unveiled in Pike Park in downtown Dallas. Hundreds of people rallied to show their support for Santos. 

Santos on the right, his brother David on the left

Santos died over a mere $8 theft that he may have not even committed. On July 24, 1943, police officers forced out Santos and his 13-year-old brother David Rodriguez from their homes in handcuffs and into a police car unlawfully. The officers tried to pressure the boys to confess to robbing $8 from a vending machine from a gas station, but both boys denied that they stole. To make the boys divulge, one of the officers coerced the boys into a game of Russian Roulette. However, when the boys denied it again, that same officer, Darrell Cain, pulled out his gun and executed the shot killing Santos. 

The officer who murdered Santos did not receive a deserving sentence. Darell Cain was convicted of “negligent homicide” and received a sentence of only five years, of which he served two and a half years. This unjust murder brought the Mexican-American community of Dallas together to demand justice during a protest started on July 28, 1973. This protest was also known as the “March of Justice for Santos Rodriguez.”

“The murder of Santos Rodriguez was a shame on our city,” Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson said. Rodriguez wasn’t even granted a formal apology until 2013 from the then Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings. Even to this day, Santos Rodriguez is remembered for the injustice he faced. His death ignited the spark for the people of Dallas to speak up against the police brutality and violence the Mexican-American community and other people of color face.

Works Cited

“July 24, 1973: Twelve-Year-Old Santos Rodriguez Killed by Police.” Zinn Education Project,, Dianne. “Dallas Reckoning: Statue of Santos Rodriguez, a 12-Year-Old Boy Slain by a Dallas Cop, Is Dedicated.” Dallas News, 12 Feb. 2022,