Widow: Police seized her phone without permission after husband died in custody
MOORE, Okla. – Questions are being raised following the sudden death of an Oklahoma man.
He died in police custody after a struggle with officers outside the Warren Theater in Moore.
We first brought you the story over the weekend.
The man’s wife, Nair Rodriguez, claims police beat her husband just before he died.
She also claims she captured the beating on cell phone video.
However, she does not have that crucial evidence because police took her phone.
Moore police say they are investigating the incident.
It involved the Rodriguez family, two officers who were on-duty and three security officers, one of whom was an off-duty officer.
Nair said, “The officer put a knee on his face. Then, you can tell on the video, he started beating on his face.”
She’s referring to video we may never see.
Nair says she and her daughter got into an argument outside of the Warren Theater over the weekend.
She says her husband, Luis Rodriguez, tried to break it up but police stepped in.
Nair said, “I saw a bunch of police getting on my husband.”
Nair says she recorded the alleged beating with her cell phone but police took her device.
She said, “They took the telephone without my permission.”
However, police say the phone was taken as evidence.
Garvin Isaacs, a local defense attorney, says while police do have a right to the evidence, they do not have to take a person’s property.
Isaacs said, “If I’m the lawyer and my client says, ‘Do I give them my phone?’ I’m saying, ‘We will now go with the police officer and make a copy of what’s on the phone, but the telephone is yours.”
While police have the video, Nair’s family gave us an audio recording taken that night.
In the recording, you hear Nair talking with an unknown official at the scene.
She says, “Why you took my phone without permission. I told you, I was going to e-mail you.”
They continue discussing the situation.
The unknown official said, “When you video taped this, it became evidence. It helps us. You’re helping us. I’m sorry that we’re going to have to take it.”
That official goes on to say the phone will be returned to her in the same condition in which she handed it over.
Isaacs said, “That was her cell phone. They seized her property without due process of law.”
Moore police tell us Nair had shown the video to an officer at the scene.
They tell us the phone was wrapped up at the scene and logged into an evidence file.
They also tell us they have now obtained a warrant to view the video on the phone.
Police officials say detectives are reviewing the evidence and will be conducting interviews with all of the parties involved in the coming days.
Authorities also tell us investigators will be looking into why Luis Rodriguez was being handcuffed.
They are also investigating whether officers overstepped any boundaries in regards to the alleged beating of Rodriguez.
The medical examiner has not yet determined the cause of Luis Rodriguez’s death.
Moore police say they send their condolences to the Rodriguez family.
The three Moore officers involved; two who were on-duty, one who was off-duty, have been placed on paid administrative leave.
Sgt. Jeremy Lewis, with the Moore Police Department, issued the following release on the incident:
First and foremost, the Moore Police Department sends our condolences to the Rodriguez family. Concerning the events that occurred early morning Saturday, February 15th, 2014 at the Moore Warren Theatre involving 3 private security officers (one of which is a Moore Police officer) and 2 on-duty Moore Police officers, the investigation is still ongoing and parties involved, including witnesses, have exercised their right to counsel. The following is an account of what we can confirm:
- Officers were notified of a possible fight in the theatre parking lot.
- All the events that took place once officers arrived at the incident involving the Rodriguez family are now under investigation. Details will be released once the investigation is complete.
- A search warrant has been obtained for a cell phone that was retrieved from the scene. The Cleveland County District Attorney will determine when the cell phone is returned to its owner.
- The 3 Moore Police officers involved are currently on administrative leave pending a thorough investigation.
- Detectives are now reviewing video evidence from the incident and will be conducting interviews with all parties involved in the coming days. All of the findings will be sent to the Cleveland County District Attorney’s Office for a thorough review.
We will update you as the investigation progresses. We understand the public’s desire for information and we ask for patience as all of the facts are being investigated and will not be released until they are confirmed by investigators.