Tuesday marks 45th anniversary of 12-year-old murdered by Dallas cop

Tuesday marks 45 years since a 12-year-old boy was murdered by a Dallas police officer.

To this day, the killing of Santos Rodriguez still resonates with the local Mexican-American community. On Monday night, a documentary about the case screened at the Angelika Theater in Dallas.

Filmmaker Byron Hunter says he just finished editing the documentary this weekend. Monday's private screening will be followed by a public showing on Tuesday on the 45th anniversary of a killing that marked a very dark day in Dallas.

The killing of 12-year-old Santos Rodriguez was national news. It sparked a series of protests and near riots.

It was on July 24, 1973, when Santos and his brother, David, were picked up on suspicion of burglary. Santos was handcuffed in the back of a Dallas police car.

Officer Darrell Cain held a revolver to the boy's head and pulled the trigger on an empty chamber. The boy still insisted he was innocent. The second trigger pull was a live round and was a fatal shot to the head.

Hunter's documentary, ‘Santos Vive,' details both the murder and the history of the neighborhood where it happened. "Little Mexico" is all but gone now, swallowed up by urban development

"What I remember personally is the trauma that Dallas faced," Hunter said. "The sheer horror of what the city felt. The tension the city felt after Santos got killed is something I've never seen or felt before or since then."

Officer Cain would testify that he thought the gun was empty. He was convicted of murder and sentenced to five years in prison. He only served two and a half years.

Among those who went to the first showing were Rodriguez's family members, including his mother Bessie.

"It was just like yesterday," she said. "It hit me real hard. I'm still going through depression sometimes."

Hunter says the Jones Film and video collection at SMU approached him less than 100 days ago to do this documentary for the 45th anniversary.

It's not a finished product. But when it is, he hopes to show it at film festivals and get it on streaming services with a much wider audience.

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