Lawmaker calls for OSBI to intervene after man dies in police custody outside local theater
UPDATE: State Rep. Mike Shelton called for the OSBI to take over the investigation into the death of a man in police custody outside the Warren Theater.
“We are hearing many concerns from family and witnesses about the actions of the Moore police officers that night,” said Shelton. “For the sake of an impartial investigation, I believe the OSBI must step in and take this inquiry over from the Moore Police Department. To avoid having this situation turn into an even bigger controversy, I believe state officials should be put in charge.”
For the OSBI to intervene, Shelton says a formal request would be required from either the Cleveland County Sheriff, the Cleveland County District Attorney or the Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt.
MOORE, Okla. – Chief Jerry Stillings, with the Moore Police Department, is standing behind the five officers involved in the death of a man they were handcuffing at the Warren Theater on Saturday.
The chief says three Moore police officers and two Oklahoma game wardens working security at the theater were justified in the force they used against Luis Rodriguez.
Investigators say the officers came to the theater after a customer called to report Rodriguez’s wife for slapping their adult daughter.
Chief Stillings says Rodriguez wasn’t cooperating with the investigation.
“He basically would not provide any identifying information, was trying to leave,” said Chief Stillings. “Eventually, when told he could not leave, he took an aggressive stance, clenching his fists. Officers felt threatened at that point.”
So threatened, officers tried to arrest him.
However, investigators say Rodriguez shrugged the officers off him with an arm.
Once they had him in handcuffs, an ambulance had to take him to the hospital.
Chief Stillings wasn’t sure Tuesday if Rodriguez died at the theater or at the hospital.
He also says he doesn’t know what caused his death.
Now, Rodriguez’s family is fighting back with cell phone video they say captured it all.
“My husband died in a very vicious way,” said Nair Rodriguez. “This cannot be in vain and will not. We’re going to fight.”
It’s a promise from his wife of 22 years to take down the police officers who she says murdered her husband.
“We are more afraid and scared of the police than we are of the criminal because at least with the criminal, we have a chance to prove they were after us,” said Nair. “With police, they have the authority and power. They are the Goliath of the system but we are the David. But David at the end, defeat with one stone.”
Her stone, she says, is that cell phone footage.
Footage her attorney, Melissa Lujan, is keeping private.
Lujan said, “At this point, we need to let the investigation happen.”
Rodriguez’s wife tells NewsChannel 4 that she started recording video on her cell phone when she says police started beating her husband.
The entire arrest was captured by security cameras in the Warren Theater parking lot.
Investigators have that video but wouldn’t release it Tuesday.
However, police said that video will prove officers did not beat Rodriguez.
Investigators say it will show they scuffled with Rodriguez in order to detain him.
They used pepper spray but did not use batons or other weapons.
Pictures taken that night show blood next to an orange evidence marker.
Rodriguez’s family says that’s his blood, proof that he was injured.
“[Officers]beat my husband on the face repeatedly when his body was moveless,” said Nair.
Ryan Medina, Rodriguez’s son, said, “For them to take such extreme actions was uncalled for. It never should have happened. No matter what they say, it doesn’t excuse them to do what they did.”
Now, his family clings to old home videos of Rodriguez fishing and enjoying his grandchildren.
He was 44-years-old when he died.
“He was a man of God,” said Nair. “A man that could fight for his life but decided not to.”
Rodriguez had never been arrested.
Once the medical examiner releases the cause of Rodriguez’s death, investigators expect to know more about what caused it.
The Moore police officers involved are on administrative leave while the department investigates the case.