On September 29, 1999 Cynthia was the victim in her estranged husband's murder-suicide.
...[Fort Lauderdale police officer] Daniel Alberto Rodriguez, coaxed his estranged wife to take the trip north, saying he was worried about problems at work and did not want to be alone. He needed someone to talk to, so Cynthia went against her family's wishes... Cynthia said she had to join her husband because he needed her...
...Cynthia Rodriguez refused to call the police and report her husband's behavior even after her mother suggested it... "She said he was already under investigation for something else and she didn't want him to get fired"... Rodriguez had been the subject last year of a departmental inquiry for threatening another woman with a gun...
...[Jim C. said] Danny admitted to me and my wife that he put his gun to [a different woman's] head and threatened to kill her... [Jim C.] said he called the Sun-Sentinel after hearing from friends in Fort Lauderdale about the murder-suicide, "because if they had done the right thing a year ago, maybe this situation wouldn't have happened"...
...Before Rodriguez was hired in Fort Lauderdale, he had been denied jobs at six other police agencies and had told an officer who pulled him over in Miami-Dade County that he, too, was an officer, even though he wasn't...
...When his temper flared because she wanted to have lunch with a girlfriend, it was irritating. But when he penned another love note and slipped it over the bar, it was touching...
...But the family's attorney, Douglas L. Bates, said Rodriguez's record should have alerted the department to potential trouble... Bates said the department knew Rodriguez had been involved in trouble while working off-duty security jobs, and that in 1991, before being hired, he was pulled over by Metro-Dade police and produced a fake Fort Lauderdale police badge...
...[Cindy] drove a big black GMC pickup truck with a silver dolphin emblem on the rear window. She'd been a horseback rider since she was a toddler and doted on her two Siberian huskies. When she decided to be a pilot, she simply walked into Ross Aviation at North Perry Airport and said: "What do I have to do to learn how to fly?"...
Kathy Bushouse, Vanessa Bauza
Sep 30, 1999
[Excerpts] A newly married Fort Lauderdale police officer killed himself and his wife Wednesday in what detectives are calling a murder-suicide in a motel room near Walt Disney World. Osceola County sheriff's detectives were investigating the deaths of Daniel Rodriguez, 30, and his wife, Cynthia, 23... The couple, who married in August, checked in on Tuesday... Fort Lauderdale homicide detectives were on their way to Osceola County on Wednesday night to assist with the investigation into the Rodriguezes' deaths... The department's chaplain was with Rodriguez's family Wednesday night...[Full article here]
Terri Somers and Ardy Friedberg
Oct 1, 1999. pg. 1.B
[Excerpts] A sobbing Cynthia Cusano Rodriguez called her mother at 3:40 p.m. Wednesday from a Kissimmee motel room, pleading for someone to come pick her up so she could flee her abusive husband. Ten minutes later, the 23-year-old woman's father and younger sister were on the highway headed north to get her. They already were too late. Just minutes after hanging up the telephone, Rodriguez was shot in the head and killed by her husband, a Fort Lauderdale police officer, who then killed himself... The officer, Daniel Alberto Rodriguez, coaxed his estranged wife to take the trip north, saying he was worried about problems at work and did not want to be alone. He needed someone to talk to, so Cynthia went against her family's wishes... Cynthia said she had to join her husband because he needed her... "She was a very loving, compassionate person. She had so much to offer, and he just snuffed her life out," [Mom] Marie Cusano said. "He didn't know how many lives he was destroying when he took her away"... They had plans for a big wedding in February, they said. But on a trip to Las Vegas five weeks ago, the couple were wed. She came home with bruises on her arms and legs from that trip, Marie Cusano said. And after a lot of prodding by her parents, Cynthia broke down and confessed that her new husband was abusive... "She moved into his house before they were married and moved out 10 days after. Then she moved back in two weeks later and moved back out again the night everyone was preparing for the hurricane," she said. Cynthia had returned to live with her parents... Cynthia Rodriguez refused to call the police and report her husband's behavior even after her mother suggested it... "She said he was already under investigation for something else and she didn't want him to get fired"... Rodriguez had been the subject last year of a departmental inquiry for threatening another woman with a gun... [Full article here]
`WE NEVER SAW THIS COMING': Detective Says Murder-Suicide By Officer Surprises Police
Oct 2, 1999
[Excerpts] No one on the force, even those who worked directly with Officer Daniel Alberto Rodriguez, had any reason to think he was capable of murder, Fort Lauderdale police said on Friday. But a 1998 complaint in Rodriguez's personnel file involving a gun might have served as a warning... The department conducts psychological testing on all job candidates, [department spokesman Detective Mike] Reed said. But the complaint filed with Fort Lauderdale police in December 1998 by an unidentified woman said she was warned by a mutual friend that Rodriguez had put a gun to a woman's head while on a visit to New York and threatened her life. The complainant said she felt Rodriguez's actions needed to be brought to the department's attention. The report said the woman did not know whether the story was true but "feared that if it was true and something violent were to occur in the future, she would feel responsible" for not advising authorities. When asked by his supervisor about the gun allegation, Rodriguez, who joined the department as a patrol officer in July 1996, denied it had occurred, the report said. No formal complaint was ever filed against Rodriguez, and the incident was ruled unfounded... [Longtime friend of Rodriguez, Jim C.] said Rodriguez, who was divorced in 1997, was visiting him on Long Island, N.Y., when he made a gun threat... [Jim C.] said Rodriguez came to New York in December 1997 with a woman he introduced as his fiancee. "During the time they were in my house, she was upset and angry... She told me and my wife that Danny had put his service revolver to her head and threatened to kill her before taking the trip. She wanted to leave him and be done with him. Danny admitted to me and my wife that he put his gun to her head and threatened to kill her. Up to that point, I had never seen that side of him, and it was scary as hell. I told him he had to see somebody. I said it wasn't right. I told him not to hurt her, not to touch her." [Jim C.] said he called the Sun-Sentinel after hearing from friends in Fort Lauderdale about the murder-suicide, "because if they had done the right thing a year ago, maybe this situation wouldn't have happened"... [Full article here]
FAMILY TO SUE OVER DEATH: Attorney Tells Lauderdale City Not Careful In Giving Officer Gun, Parents Say
Dec 18, 1999
[Excerpts] The family of a 23-year-old woman murdered by a Fort Lauderdale police officer in October gave notice Thursday that they intend to sue the city for negligence and possibly for violating the woman's civil rights, the family's attorney said. Cynthia Diane Cusano-Rodriguez's death could have been prevented if police department officials had recognized her husband's "dangerous propensity" and taken away his badge and his gun, her parents, John and Marie Cusano, of Davie, contend. Their letter says the city was negligent in hiring, training, and supervising Officer Daniel Alberto Rodriguez, a three-year veteran... Mayor Jim Naugle said he did not see how the city was negligent. "It didn't happen in Fort Lauderdale," he said Friday. "It was an employee of ours that did something outside of our city"... But the family's attorney, Douglas L. Bates, said Rodriguez's record should have alerted the department to potential trouble... Bates said the department knew Rodriguez had been involved in trouble while working off-duty security jobs, and that in 1991, before being hired, he was pulled over by Metro-Dade police and produced a fake Fort Lauderdale police badge. "It's the family's position that had they been more careful who they hired and gave a gun to, this incident may not have happened"... [Full article here]
By Jonathon King
Sunday, July 2, 2000
[Excerpts] ...Danny Rodriguez was good at wooing Cindy Cusano. He did all the right things... More than a year before he met Cindy, the sister of Danny's live-in girlfriend, Lisa Phillips, received a terrifying phone call. For 45 minutes, Lauri Barefoot listened to her sister sob and scream during a fight with Rodriguez. The call was made from their apartment, and Phillips had inadvertently left the phone off the hook... With the help of her sister, Phillips ended her relationship with Danny in April 1999. When he kept calling and paging her and blocked her car in the police department lot, Phillips finally complained to a sergeant, who gave her a tape recorder to record harassing calls. But formally, the troubles were not documented. Formally, Rodriguez received glowing evaluations... "When she first introduced him, I remember thinking, he's a police officer. I'll never have to worry about anyone hurting my daughter," says John Cusano, Cindy's father. "It lulled us into this sense of security." [See the indepth article "A Love Story"]
PROMISES MADE, PROMISES BROKEN: Danny spun dreams of a perfect future. For cindy, the allure of possibilities blurred the signs of danger
South Florida Sun-Sentinel
By Jonathon King
Monday, July 3, 2000
To love and cherish. In joy and in sorrow. For the rest of our lives... They made their promises. And that night he broke them. Five days after her wedding, Cindy Cusano came home from her honeymoon with a bruised body and a wounded spirit, and it wasn't enough to get her out... "From this point on, we're going to be happy"... [Cindy] drove a big black GMC pickup truck with a silver dolphin emblem on the rear window. She'd been a horseback rider since she was a toddler and doted on her two Siberian huskies. When she decided to be a pilot, she simply walked into Ross Aviation at North Perry Airport and said: "What do I have to do to learn how to fly?" But by spring 1999, when she started dating Danny, her friends say she was a woman looking for commitment... When Danny parked his patrol car across the street from the Quarterdeck and called every time she talked too long with a male customer, it was grating. But when they discussed buying a house and several acres for her horses in Palm Beach County, it was promising. When his temper flared because she wanted to have lunch with a girlfriend, it was irritating. But when he penned another love note and slipped it over the bar, it was touching. When he tossed the chair across their apartment, it was scary. But when he let her run driver's license checks for him on his patrol car computer, it was exciting... The wedding date was set for the following February. But on Aug. 5, 10 minutes before they boarded a flight for a 10-day vacation in Las Vegas, Cindy and Danny told her parents they were getting married the next day. Her parents were stunned and confused. When Marie Cusano called the next day to wish them luck and happiness, Danny refused to let her speak to her daughter. When she begged him to let her tell Cindy she loved her on her wedding day, he hung up on her... [See the indepth article: "PROMISES MADE, PROMISES BROKEN":.]
South Florida Sun-Sentinel
By Jonathon King
Tuesday, July 4, 2000
[Excerpts] ...For seven months, Cindy Cusano, a popular bartender, and Danny Rodriguez, a well-liked but troubled Fort Lauderdale police officer, rode a deteriorating relationship... "It all happened so fast" is a phrase often repeated by friends of Cindy and Danny... He told her he loved her on their first weekend together... They got engaged two months after their first date. The next day he started backhanding her. They eloped to Las Vegas despite elaborate wedding plans. She was battered on her honeymoon. The violence between them was private at first, but when they returned from their wedding, Danny was openly hostile toward his bride. And Cindy began confiding in close friends: "He doesn't beat the crap out of me, but he does hit me"... On Aug. 15, Danny, dressed in his Fort Lauderdale police uniform, smacked Cindy in the mouth while she was working the bar... At 2 a.m., she called her best friend. Dabbing at her split and swollen lip, she asked Jennifer Shusky to come and get her. "Please take me home. I'm not going to take this anymore." With the help of her parents, her brother and her friends, Cindy moved out of the apartment she had shared with Danny for less than two months. At 3 a.m., Danny was watching her furniture being carried out, pleading for Cindy to change her mind. His parents also arrived to try to help calm the situation and to persuade the Cusano family not to report their son... Cindy agreed to go with Danny to see a marriage counselor... By the end of the month, she'd moved back into his apartment... On Sept. 29, Cindy called her parents from a motel room in Kissimmee. She was crying in a way her parents had never heard before. "She was hysterical. She was asking us to come and get her," Marie Cusano says...Marie tried to call Cindy back to tell her they were on their way. When she couldn't get an answer, she called the motel and asked for someone to check on her daughter in Room 133... When deputies from the Osceola County Sheriff's Office arrived, they had to push Danny's body aside to get through the door... Cindy was propped up on the couch, her arms holding the pillow. She was wearing jeans and her Pimm's volleyball T-shirt. Her wedding rings were on her left hand. The pillow was stained on the outside with gunshot residue. Danny had killed her with a single shot to the right temple. Outside, detectives found a photograph of the couple, torn in half and left on the ground near the door of his Pontiac Grand Am... The funeral procession strung out for miles to a spot at Hollywood Memorial Gardens where Cindy's mother weeps today, eight months later, still asking why. Marie Cusano comes here every day, sometimes for an hour, sometimes for three. She brushes stray grass clippings from a marker that reads: "Fly high sweet angel. We all love you Cindy." She freshens pink carnations. She cannot bear to remove the tiny toys her grandson left on the grave, "so Aunt Cindy would have something to play with in heaven." "It's not like losing a child to an accident, or even an illness," she says. "The thing that haunts me most is that she died unhappy and afraid." For weeks after the burial, Marie wandered the cemetery grounds, inspecting other fresh sites, fearful that Danny Rodriguez had been buried nearby. "I know it was irrational. But I couldn't get the idea out of my head, that he was still harassing her, that he was still somewhere near," she says, bending to straighten a vase. Cindy's father watches from a soft distance, the weight of his grief, the pain he sees in his wife's eyes, makes it too hard to visit for long. "We just didn't know what to look for," says John Cusano. "We weren't trained. We knew zero about what to look for. Maybe someone else will see. Maybe." [See the indepth article HERE]
LEARN FROM THIS TRAGEDY
South Florida Sun-Sentinel
21 July 2000
Re your July 2 article about Cindy Cusano [who was murdered in an Orlando hotel by her husband]: I worked with Cindy a number of years ago at a restaurant in Fort Lauderdale and a sweeter, more self- possessed young woman I have rarely known. I would never have guessed her to fall victim to such a tragedy even though I have known many women in just such relationships. For those of us standing on the sidelines, the behavior of the abusers is like watching a train wreck in slow motion. What are the magic words to make my women friends see what is happening before it is too late? Girls, take a good look at him and ask yourself, "Is this love?" Cindy Cusano would always help a friend in need. Let her help you now... [Full article here]
FAMILY SUES LAUDERDALE OVER SLAYING NEWLYWED COP UNFIT FOR POLICE WORK, SUIT SAYS;
[Broward Metro Edition]
Sun Sentinel. pg. 1.B
Aug 17, 2000
[Excerpts] ...The parents of the young woman who was killed, Cynthia Cusano- Rodriguez, sued the city of Fort Lauderdale on Wednesday, saying the police department should have picked up on those cues and done something about them. John and Marie Cusano, of Davie, filed the suit in Broward County Circuit Court, saying Rodriguez, who was married to their daughter for just two months before he killed her, was unfit for police work and should not have been hired... "We want her back, but that can't happen," said Marie Cusano. "This never should have happened. Because of the things we found out afterwards, we knew this shouldn't have happened. Because she's not here to fight for herself, we have to fight for her - that's what her dad said. And that's what we're trying to do." Before the Sept. 29 killing, Rodriguez, 30, had just been told he was the focus of an internal affairs investigation into falsified time records for off-duty details. The family is seeking the value of lost support and services, medical or funeral expenses, mental pain and suffering and the salary and benefits that their daughter, 23, would have gotten had she lived a normal life expectancy... Before Rodriguez was hired in Fort Lauderdale, he had been denied jobs at six other police agencies and had told an officer who pulled him over in Miami-Dade County that he, too, was an officer, even though he wasn't... According to the lawsuit, there was a report that Rodriguez had put a gun to another woman's head and threatened her life; drank alcohol while working a special detail; used excessive force during arrests; and beat Cusano-Rodriguez while he was working a special detail and she was bartending at the Quarterdeck Seafood Bar & Grill in Fort Lauderdale. Other reports said he stalked a former girlfriend and abused his police powers while off duty. But instead of taking action, "The supervisors preferred to allow a psychologically troubled officer to keep and use his gun," the lawsuit says... [Full article here]
A `SHELTERED, HORRIBLE WAY TO LIVE' SOCIAL WORKERS, POLICE OFFICERS, AND FRIENDS AND RELATIVES OF DOMESTIC ABUSE VICTIMS PAY TRIBUTE AT AN ANNUAL SERVICE
South Florida Sun - Sentinel
Oct 27, 2000. pg. 6.B
[Excerpts] ...John Cusano's pain keeps him from visiting his daughter's grave very often. But he's learned that talking about his family's failure to notice the signs of abuse might be the only way to save others. "We have people who say, `Why do you keep digging it up, why do you keep thrashing with it?'" he said, before the memorial began. "But if we've saved one person, it's worth it." [Full article here]
MEMORIAL GOLF TOURNEY TO HELP RAISE AWARENESS OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE EVENT HONORS WOMAN KILLED BY HUSBAND
South Florida Sun - Sentinel
By Jonathon King
Jan 23, 2001. pg. 1.B
[Excerpts] There is no such thing as closure, says the mother who lost her daughter 16 months ago to the worst kind of domestic violence. But if you can nudge the world to take notice, move it a little to understand the plague of domestic abuse, maybe you can build a green spot in the pain. "Not a day goes by that I don't miss her and cry for her and hurt for her," says Marie Cusano, the mother of 23-year-old Cindy Cusano who was killed in 1999 by her husband. "But we need to try and see something good comes from her death. Maybe we can help some other girl out there. Maybe we can warn some other family." Cindy Cusano's death left her family and many friends heartbroken and determined to raise awareness about domestic violence, its warnings and symptoms. To that end, they began the annual Cindy Cusano Memorial Pro-Am Golf Tournament... Cusano's sister, Donna Wilkins, is an LPGA pro, and she and about 20 other members of the professional tour have committed their time to the tournament in her sister's name... "We're trying to keep her memory alive, trying to make something good out of a terrible situation the best way we know how," said Wilkins... [Full article here]
HUSBAND, COP AND ENEMY
By Tatiana Morales
July 21, 2003
[Excerpts] Domestic violence is a widespread problem that can be even more intense when the abuser is a cop. Last spring, the police chief in Tacoma, Wash., killed his wife, then himself... "I still have my voice. There's a lot of women out there who don't anymore," says Hope. She survived the abuse she suffered at the hands of her husband, a police officer. Cindy Cusano did not... John Cusano, father of the victim says, “You're supposed to be protective of your children. But I respected his position, and that was a mistake.” The Florida case attracted nowhere near the publicity of this year's murder-suicide in Tacoma, Wash., that involved chief of police David Brame. He shot his wife Crystal in front of their children... When asked if she has any idea of how many Crystal Brames there may be out there, Anne O'Dell, a retired San Diego Police sergeant says, "There are so many women being battered by police officers." The detective notes for too long, police departments have ignored the problem of domestic abuse within the ranks... She speaks from experience. In 1990, O'Dell became the domestic violence coordinator for the San Diego Police department... Both Crystal's husband David Brame, and Cindy's husband Danny Rodriguez had allegations of assault against women in their police files. But those warning signs were ignored... Cindy, like Crystal, had finally gotten the courage to leave, a dangerous time in any domestic violence situation. But advocates say, especially so, when the abuser is an officer: because the charge of abuse can cost him his badge and his gun. O'Dell explains, “If he loses his gun, he can't be a cop anymore so the danger, sky high for her now”... It is unlikely for an officer to report his partner. O'Dell says, “He'd be labeled a snitch." She adds it goes deeper. There's the loyalty factor. "So we're really ready to believe him when he says, 'She's a bitch. She's making life miserable for me,'" O’Dell says. Blame the victim; Tacoma Chief Brame had accused Crystal of violence. Even bruises can be blamed on the injured... In Tacoma, Crystal Brame's parents grieve over photos of their daughter. In Florida, Cindy's parents John and Marie Cusano remember the last chilling conversation with their daughter. Marie Cusano says, “I said, 'If he won't leave you alone, call the police.' She said, 'I can't'”... As the victim of a police officer, your situation is very different than that of other victims of domestic violence. You may be afraid to... [Full article here]
COPS OFTEN WON'T ARREST COLLEAGUES, EXPERTS SAY
South Florida Sun - Sentinel
Oct 31, 2003. pg. 1.B
[Excerpts] The apparent mishandling by Davie police officers of a domestic violence call at a fellow officer's house sheds light on conflicts some officers face when responding to calls involving other officers... The investigation involves two officers who responded to a 911 hang-up call at a fellow officer's home in Davie, during which the officer's wife, a Broward Sheriff's dispatcher, told them her husband had abused her. Neither officer filed a report, and later admitted they didn't want to implicate a fellow officer, a violation of Davie police regulations. That's a common attitude, according to law enforcement domestic violence experts, who say the inclination to protect other officers stems from loyalty and fear of suffering professional retaliation... A chilling example of the danger is the case of Cindy Cusano, a popular Fort Lauderdale bartender and private pilot, killed in 1999 by her husband, Fort Lauderdale police officer Danny Rodriguez... The murder-suicide ended an abusive seven-month relationship that had quickly spiraled out of control. Although a report claiming that Rodriquez put a gun to a previous girlfriend's head while threatening her was made to Fort Lauderdale police, he was still on active duty when he killed Cusano. The girlfriend in that report also worked for the police department as a community service aide... But until departments penalize officers for protecting other officers, violations will continue, said Jan Russell, a domestic violence victim advocate with the Chicago Police Department. Russell helped write a policy adopted by the department in 1994 that requires officers responding to calls involving other officers to immediately summon to the scene a supervisor who outranks the implicated officer... [Full article here]
PARENTS LOSE LAWSUIT OVER MURDERED DAUGHTER
South Florida Sun - Sentinel
May 28, 2005. pg. 3.B
[Excerpt] The parents of a young woman murdered by her husband, a Fort Lauderdale police officer, failed in their legal bid to hold the city responsible. Broward Circuit Court Judge Victor Tobin issued a summary judgment in favor of the city this week, dismissing the couple's argument that the city should have noticed that Officer Daniel Alberto Rodriguez had violent tendencies. John and Marie Cusano of Davie sued the city on grounds of negligence in hiring, training and supervising their son-in-law... [Full article here]
[police officer involved domestic violence oidv intimate partner violence ipv abuse law enforcement public safety lethal fatality fatalities hx repeat murder suicide florida state politics]