Family releases raw cellphone footage of man dying in police custody
February 25, 2014
The lawyer for a family whose patriarch died after a one-sided confrontation with police says officers may have continued beating the man even after he was already dead.
The attorney’s remarks come as outrageous new raw footage documenting the last moments of the man’s life is released.
The footage shows five exhausted officers pinning a handcuffed man face down to the ground in the parking lot of the Moore Warren Movie Theater in Moore, Okla., while his wife is heard begging police to stop.
Police say the man who died, 44-year-old Luis Rodriguez, was confrontational when they approached to question him concerning a domestic disturbance call, however, the family’s attorney, Michael Brooks-Jimenez, says Rodriguez was not involved in the initial dispute.
Officers next pepper sprayed, beat, then proceeded to handcuff Rodriguez, possibly after he had already died, Brooks-Jimenez asserts.
“He was not involved in the disturbance. However, when police came, they focused their attention on Luis. Taking him face down onto the pavement, pepper-spraying his mouth, nose and eyes and putting the weight of five grown men on top of him, and then handcuffing him as he was unconscious or already dead,” the Rodriguez family lawyer said.
“Luis committed no crime. He wasn’t armed. No gun. No knife. No weapon of any kind. But Luis was the one who lost his life that night,” Brooks-Jimenez adds.
In the video, fatigued officers cease a five-person dog pile to reveal a limp Rodriguez, whose lifeless body police attempt to prop up in an effort to save face.
“Papa! Is he OK?,” Rodriguez’s wife cries out as he’s loaded on to a stretcher. “He doesn’t move. He doesn’t move! You kill him! You kill him! You killed my husband! Please somebody tell me that he’s alive!”
Meanwhile, a few of the participating officers can be overheard lobbing threats, saying she could “get herself in trouble” if she didn’t comply with their orders.
Three of the five officers have reportedly been placed on administrative leave while the Oklahoma Bureau of Investigations look into the matter. As of yet, there is no lawsuit pending and the theater’s surveillance footage has yet to be released. Autopsy results are also pending.
Though the footage is powerful, video evidence showing officers committing essentially murder is no longer necessarily enough for a conviction, as seen recently in the aquittal of two officers involved in the death of homeless man Kelly Thomas.