Stavian Rodriguez’s mother files lawsuit against City of Oklahoma City, Police Chief Gourley and 5 officers charged with his death

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – The mother of Stavian Rodriguez filed a federal lawsuit against the City of Oklahoma City, the Oklahoma City Police Department’s police chief and the five officers who shot and killed Rodriguez on the night of Nov. 23, 2020.

Rodriguez’s mother, Cameo Holland, represented by attorney Rand Eddy, filed the lawsuit three weeks after Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater charged Oklahoma City police officers Bethany Sears, Jared Barton, Corey Adams, John Skuta and Brad Pemberton with first-degree manslaughter. Sgt. Sarah Carli also fired at Rodriguez, but was not charged because she fired a less lethal weapon.

The lawsuit seeks damages in excess of $75,000.

All five officers, along with the City of Oklahoma City and Police Chief Wade Gourley, are named as defendants in the lawsuit.

“[Stavian Rodriguez] was in the process of complying with commands and surrendering when he was shot at more than twenty times and shot thirteen times by the five Defendant Officers,” the lawsuit states.

image of stavian rodriguez
Stavian Rodriguez

Police Department officials say 15-year-old Rodriguez was committing armed robbery at Okie Express, near Western and Interstate 240, when he barricaded himself inside the convenience store.

Officer body camera footage shows the owner of the convenience store telling officers a man with a gun robbed his store, so he locked him inside.

The District Attorney’s Office released surveillance video footage of the officer-involved shooting and police officials released body camera footage from each officer involved in the shooting.

Surveillance video shows the 15-year-old crawling out the store’s drive-thru window. Once he was out, the video shows him dropping his weapon on the ground in front of him.

Photo goes with story
Stavian Rodriguez as he drops a gun.

“He then puts his left hand in his rear left pocket and his right hand at his front right pocket or waistline,” according to court documents.

Officers then opened fire.

Stavian was shot 13 times, according to the Medical Examiner.

“Stavian was shot within six seconds after the window and two seconds after his gun lands on the ground,” Eddy previously said.

The lawsuit alleges the Police Department has long been in the practice of using excessive force, even referencing the Dec. 11 shooting death of Bennie Edwards, a homeless man armed with a knife who suffered from schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Sgt. Clifford Holman was charged with first-degree manslaughter for shooting Edwards after Edwards ran past he and his fellow officers. Charging documents state that Holman opening fire at that point was “unnecessary” and “without justifiable cause.”

The following are factual allegations from the lawsuit that concern the Police Department’s alleged use of excessive force:

46. The City by and through its department, the Oklahoma City Police Department, has maintained for a number of years the second highest per capita rate of persons being killed by its police officers, is aware of this fact, but has denied this fact in public statements to media at times relevant and close to events giving rise to this lawsuit.

47. The City has maintained a pattern, practice, policy, and/or custom of performing excessive force on persons in Oklahoma City.

48. The City has been deliberately indifferent to the OKCPD police officer’s pattern, practice, policy, and/or custom of performing excessive force on persons in Oklahoma City.

49. The City has deliberately perpetuated and affected pattern(s), practice(s), policy(ies), and/or custom(s) of performing excessive force on persons in Oklahoma City and/or resulting in excessive force on persons in Oklahoma City.

50. At all times relevant, policymakers for the City have been aware of the above but have not taken sufficient action or any action to remedy the circumstances.

51. Responsive to resident complaints of the City’s pattern, practice, and custom of excessive force, the City created a Task Force in the Summer of 2020, which includes the Chief of Police and City Manager, to review and revise the excessive force issues, but its policymakers did not and have not taken any action sufficient to prevent the injuries and death of S.R. and other persons from excessive force by OKCPD.

52. On December 12, 2020, an OKCPD officer perpetrated excessive force and criminal First-Degree Manslaughter against another resident of Oklahoma City, shooting and killing Bennie Edwards, and the officer has also been charged with the crime in Oklahoma County District Court of the State of Oklahoma.

Holland previously revealed to KFOR that her son left their home without her permission prior to the shooting.

“I had made a runaway report with Oklahoma County that was active at the time they murdered him,” she said. “He was having some problems that a lot of teenage kids have, especially young boys that don’t have a father involved that just really got out of hand in a few months.”

All five officers charged are on paid administrative leave. 

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