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There were potential civil rights violations in the killings of Heather Leann Rodriguez and Jasmine Melendez. Photo: LULAC

LULAC highlights potential civil rights violations in the deaths of two Latinas in Texas

Heather Leann Rodriguez and Jasmine Melendez were killed in separate incidents in towns 30 minutes away from each other.

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The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) is demanding complete and transparent investigations by outside law enforcement agencies and federal authorities into possible civil rights violations involving the deaths of two young Latina women in Texas.

Heather Leann Rodriguez, a mother of three, was killed on Nov. 11, 2021 in what Odessa police are say was a murder-suicide at the hands of an ex-boyfriend. Rodriguez was shot multiple times and died in her car on a residential street.

The murder happened in broad daylight as she tried escaping her attacker, who rammed his truck into her vehicle. Her family says that she and they had been contacting the police for several months prior to the shooting and were told there was not enough evidence for an arrest.

The young mother will be buried on Tuesday, Nov. 23, in Odessa, leaving behind three children, ages 5 to 11 years old.

In a community 30 minutes away from Odessa, 15-year-old Jasmine Melendez died at a friend’s house on Oct. 20, 2020. Melendez was an active high school student and softball athlete.

Investigators say they are keeping the circumstances surrounding the girl’s death confidential due to her age, and medical forensics officials state that Melendez died from a cerebral air embolism.

They claim that an air bubble traveled from another part of her body via an artery to her brain. Her family disputes that and says Melendez was the victim of sexual assault and severe beating. They say that police are keeping the facts private because the alleged attacker and his family are important in the community.

Melendez’ family attorney, Zeke Fortenberry, told NewsWest9 that the preliminary autopsy report doesn’t tell the whole story of her death.

“We continue to wait for the full and final peer-reviewed autopsy report, as well as findings of the ongoing police investigation. We believe that additional information will reveal that the manner of Jasmine's death was not an accident,” Fortenberry said.  

Renowned civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump, is now representing the Melendez family.

“No parent should have to bury their child, but this case has a heightened level of tragedy and heartbreak because Jasmine Melendez’s family does not know why they lost their child,” Crump said in a statement.

Rodolfo Rosales Jr. Texas LULAC State Director, said in a news release that LULAC is dedicated to defending Latinas against domestic violence and abuse.

“LULAC wants an outside investigation, including for the U.S Justice Department to find out all the facts, wherever these may lead,” Rosales said.

“These two tragic incidents are part of the growing trend across the country and Puerto Rico involving women and violence, often at the hands of intimate partners,” said Elsie Valdes-Ramos, LULAC National Board Member and Vice-President for Women. 

“LULAC will not rest until all those responsible for the alleged crimes or involved in a cover-up, including the police, are held accountable. The lives of Latinas are not cheap, and we want justice,” she continued. 

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