Tahlequah Daily Press

February 26, 2014

Family of man who died after altercation hosts press conference, releases cell phone footage

By Michael Kinney
The Norman Transcript

OKLAHOMA CITY — Nair Rodriguez’s voice can be heard loud and clear. With five lawmen on top of her husband, Luis, she screamed over and over, “You kill him. You kill him.”

The chilling screams were part of a six-minute cell phone video that was released Tuesday by the attorneys for the family of Luis Rodriguez, who died Feb. 15 after an altercation with three members of the Moore Police Department and two off-duty Oklahoma game wardens working private security at the Warren Theatre in Moore.

The video was filmed by Nair and doesn’t begin until Luis is already down on the ground with the MPD and security is grasping his limbs and holding a knee to the back of his neck.

In the video, Nair can be heard asking the officers why they were there.

“This is parent thing, and look how you’re treating him,” Nair said. “Can somebody explain to me why you came to this place. Please. Luis, are you OK? Luis. Luis, are you OK?”

When Luis didn’t answer his wife, one of the officer’s responded, “He’s fine.”

However, once Luis was propped up off the ground, it appears he didn’t make any sounds or any movements the rest of the video.

“After seeing the treatment that Luis received from the officers, Luis’ wife pulled out her phone to document their actions out of serious concern for his safety,” attorney Michael Brooks-Jime’nez said.

According to MPD, Rodriguez died at the hospital in Moore after the altercation. However, the family contends he may have died in the parking lot of the theater.

The Rodriguez family and their attorneys had a news conference Tuesday at the NW Free Will Baptist Church in Oklahoma City, which is where Luis was a member.

Before showing the video to the assembled media, Brooks-Jime’nez made a statement in which he described the events of the night in question.

“The evening started with a family outing to watch a movie at The Warren Theatre,” Brooks-Jime’nez said. “Luis’ wife of 22 years and his teenage daughter got into an argument that resulted in his wife leaving to go to her car. Luis, known in his family and his church as a peacemaker, went after his wife to calm her down when he was confronted by police and theater security.”

In the video, one of the members of the MPD explains to Nair that they were responding to a domestic abuse call. Nair told the officer that she had struck their daughter.

“A crime was committed of domestic abuse,” the officer told Nair. “We came out here to investigate it. (Luis) refused to give his ID. He got combative. That’s why he got put in this position.”

Nair asked the officer if Luis was bleeding. He tells her it’s him who’s bleeding, but they have medical there to check on Luis.

Nair informed the officer she’s recording the situation as they repeatedly asked for her ID and told her to stand back from the scene.

“He was not involved in the disturbance,” Brooks-Jime’nez said. “However, when the police came, they focused their attention on Luis, taking him face down to the pavement, pepper spraying his mouth, nose and eyes, putting the weight of five grown men on top of him, handcuffing him as he was unconscious or possibly already dead.”

While EMTs put Luis on a stretcher, an officer asked Nair about the fight with her 19-year-old daughter.

While she was explaining what happened, Nair stopped mid-sentence. After a pause she began to scream for her husband.

“Papa!” Nair yelled. “Is he OK? He doesn’t move. He doesn’t move. You kill him. You kill him. You’re killing my husband. Please somebody tell me that he’s alive. I need to know that he’s alive.”

At that point, Nair can be heard sobbing and crying as the officer told her to take a deep breath and that Luis was OK.

“Get your ID,” the officer said. “Focus on me. Take some deep breaths. Medical is here. They are going to take care of him.”

Nair screamed again, “Is he OK. Is he alive? Please somebody tell me he’s alive. Thank you.”

The investigation was turned over to the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, as was all evidence collected by the MPD. That includes the Rodriguez cell phone video, which was taken from Nair. A security video from the Warren Theatre also was handed over, but that has yet to be released to the public.

Three MPD officers have been placed on administrative leave following the incident. None have been publicly named.

The two off-duty game wardens who work at the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation have not been placed on leave.

The cause of death is waiting on the toxicology report, according to the Oklahoma State Medical Examiner’s office.

“Luis committed no crime,” Brooks-Jime’nez said. “He wasn’t armed. No gun. No knife. No weapon of any kind. But Luis was the one who lost his life that night.”

Michael Kinney

Follow me @eyeamtruth

mkinney@normantranscript.com