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Man shot by Hillsborough deputy outside bar is mentally ill, family says

BRANDON — Yolanda Molina often hides her son's shoes. She's afraid he'll wander off and get hurt.

On Wednesday afternoon, Evelio David Rodriguez, 20, put on someone else's shoes instead and went for a walk.

Now he's in a hospital and under arrest.

Rodriguez is charged with two counts of battery on a law enforcement officer, resisting arrest with violence, depriving a law enforcement officer of weapon or protection, and more.

It happened in the parking lot of a Brandon sports bar, where a Hillsborough County sheriff's deputy shot Rodriguez during a struggle. Authorities say he took a female deputy's Taser and wound up on top of her on the ground. A second deputy fired. The two were attempting to arrest Rodriguez on a trespassing charge when the fight broke out.

The deputies, Desirae Penrose, 27, and Christina Ammons, 45, were not injured.

Rodriguez's family doesn't understand why the incident escalated as far as it did — especially considering his mental state.

"He's got issues," his mother said.

It started about two years ago out of the blue. The once socially active boy stopped talking, Molina said He began mumbling with his face turned toward the sky and arms raised up, like he was talking to God. He won't eat or shower, unless told to do so.

He's never been diagnosed because the family can't afford to seek help.

"I feel sad, hurt, scared for him every time he leaves the house," Molina said. "But I can't watch him all the time."

Rodriguez has been arrested for trespassing five times since 2010. He often begs for money, Molina said, though she doesn't know why.

"I tell him not to go because he's going to get arrested and each time he's going to spend longer in jail," she said.

After a trespassing arrest in September, a judge ordered inpatient mental counseling for a week. Molina tried to follow up but couldn't afford it for long.

Two months later, Rodriguez stabbed his 17-year-old brother in the chest and hands with a Chinese star, sheriff's records show. Molina says Rodriguez did it because he felt cornered by her younger son. The battery charges were dropped.

Symptoms of mental illness can sometimes be misinterpreted by law enforcement officers, said Roaya Tyson, director of emergency and acute care services at Mental Health Care Inc., a nonprofit that assists families in Hillsborough County.

"They mistake it for traditional aggression," Tyson said.

She said there are programs in place for indigent mental health patients, but that it will be up to the family to seek help once Rodriguez is released.

Times researcher John Martin contributed to this report. Shelley Rossetter can be reached at srossetter@sptimes.com or (813) 661-2442.

Man shot by Hillsborough deputy outside bar is mentally ill, family says 04/14/11 [Last modified: Thursday, April 14, 2011 10:56pm]
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