OKLAHOMA CITY – Members of the community are voicing their support for a Norman woman in the middle of a federal civil rights trial stemming from the death of her husband several years ago.
About ten people, representing several local coalitions, including Black Lives Matter and the NAACP of Oklahoma City, met at East 6th St. Christian Church Friday afternoon to provide public support behind Nair Rodriguez, the wife of Luis Rodriguez.
You may remember the case when Luis Rodriguez died after a scuffle with Moore police back on February 14, 2014 in the Warren Theater parking lot, which was caught on cell phone video.
Nearly two years after his death, Nair Rodriguez filed a civil rights lawsuit in federal court, against the officers involved and other parties.
As the case moves along towards a scheduled jury trial in July, the latest drama outside the courtroom comes from a Facebook video Nair Rodriguez posted in December 2016 after learning she would not be allowed to attend the depositions of the officers.
Not long after that video was posted, the officers’ lawyer, David Kirk, filed a motion arguing Rodriguez “Instead of complying with the Protective Order (ordered because of Nair Rodriguez’ disruptive behavior during depositions), Plaintiff (Rodriguez) waited outside the building where depositions were being taken and posted an extended video discussing the Defendants, the location of the deposition and asking for help in obtaining justice against the Defendants,” according to federal court documents.
Kirk also asked of the court to issue sanctions – fines – against Rodriguez for lost costs and attorney’s fees related to that deposition and court filings.
Several weeks ago, the judge in the case, U.S. District Judge Timothy DeGiusti, ruled “Mrs. Rodriguez’s (sic) did not technically violate the terms of the (protective) Order, but her conduct certainly was offensive to the spirit of the Order.”
DeGiusti amended the protective order to prohibit Rodriguez and her family from attending depositions of the officers involved and being in the “immediate surroundings” of their location, but also denied Kirk’s request for sanctions.
Two weeks after that judge’s ruling, the community leaders gathered at the church are calling out Kirk, saying he made disparaging statements about Nair Rodriguez to the press following her posting of the Facebook video.
“He had made a statement, alleging, an accusation, that she had incited violence regarding law enforcement,” said Dwain Pellebon, with Ending Violence Everywhere Oklahoma.
“She does not need to have her name and reputation dragged through the mud,” said East 6th St. Christian Church pastor, Rev. Jesse Jackson, Jr. “So we`re trying to serve notice because we want to stand with those who are vulnerable.”
In an emailed statement, Rodriguez’ attorney Kenyatta Bethea said “the accusations against my clients utilized by the defendants were completely out of line. I hope that they were not an attempt to steer a potential jury pool.”
He went on to say that not only was Nair’s husband “a victim on that unfortunate night, but Ms. Rodriguez and the rest of her family was a victim as well. It is time for this community to recognize this injustice and take the steps to rectify it.”
NewsChannel 4 reached Kirk by phone for reaction of the comments of the group.
“Anyone who supports any party in this case should read the statements on file,” Kirk said. “Those statements are based on evidence; they`re based on the facts. The papers in the state and federal lawsuit are a matter of public record.”