MOORE, OK — A family’s night at the movies on Valentine’s Day turned into a horror show when a husband and father was beaten to death outside a cinema by police officers.
Things had not gone smoothly for the Rodriguez family — who reside in Norman, OK — due to a dispute which took place between Mrs. Nair Rodriguez and her 19-year-old daughter, Luinahi. Mrs. Rodriguez says her daughter had been lying to her so she slapped her during the argument, which took place outside the Warren Theater during the early hours of February 15th.
A bystander reported the incident and got the government involved. A bad situation would soon turn horribly worse.
Mrs. Rodriguez had stormed away from her daughter, upset at what had happened. Luis went after her to calm her down. That’s when several Moore Police officers approached.
Luinahi and Nair both witnessed what happened next. They say Luis, age 44, tried to bypass the officers as they were attempting to ask him for identification. Luis didn’t want his wife to drive away while she was angry, so he continued towards her.
That’s when Mr. Rodriguez was taken down, and beaten to death by five officers. His family witnessed him getting pummeled with fists, knees, and pepper spray until he was bloody and lifeless.
“Five guys got on top of him, beating him ruthlessly. On the head– just pow, pow, pow. Even with knees,” Luinahi tearfully explained.
Mrs. Rodriguez pulled out a cell phone to record the incident. “I’m recording because this is too much,” she says.
Her video began after the brutal beating was over, and only captured the moments when Luis was already on the ground, being pressed into the cement by five men, and then loaded onto a stretcher.
Even though the man is on the ground, motionless, officers tell him to “calm down,” as he suffers under the weight of several police officers. They handcuff him with ease and slowly roll him over, revealing his battered appearance. He cannot sit up under his own strength.
“Papa? Are you OK?” asks his wife of 22 years. Then a stretcher rolls out and the gravity of the situation sets in. “Is he OK?! He doesn’t move! You killed him! You killed my husband!”
“When they flipped him over you could see all the blood on his face, it was, he was disfigured, you couldn’t recognize him,” his daughter Luinahi later described.
An officer assured Mrs. Rodriguez her that the government was taking good care of her husband and kept insisting she produce her ID. The cop then deftly told her that he would hold her cell phone as she searched for her identification. The officer then quickly shut off the camera and confiscated the device.
The family says they waited at the hospital, hoping that he would pull through. They say they were kept from him for hours and were lied to when he was moved. Moments they could have spent saying goodbye were denied.
The department refused to return the cell phone or show the video to the media upon request. For a week and a half, the silence grated on those expecting answers. “They are trying to hide what they did — viciously,” Mrs. Rodriguez said.
After pressure from the public and the media, the department relented and turned over the seized cell phone. Police confirmed that the Warren Theater has a surveillance video of the parking lot, but they have not released it.
Michael Brooks-Jimenez, the Rodriguez family’s attorney, made the following statement upon making the video public: “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.”
“We’re obligated to detain and investigate,” said Jerry Stillings, Moore Police Chief. “If someone does not cooperate with that investigation, we have to do what we have to do to get that information.”
The chief claimed that Mr. Rodriguez was “uncooperative” and tried to leave. According to the chief: “one of the officers tried to detain Mr. Rodriguez, at which time, Mr. Rodriguez tossed the officer off of his arm.” The chief alleges that Rodriguez “took an aggressive stance,” leaving the officers “feeling threatened.” Police neutralized the threat.
“Its always important to cooperate,” the chief said.
Friends describe Luis Rodriguez as a “sweet spirit” and a peaceful, Christian man who was nicknamed “Pastor” by those to whom he ministered.
Three of the officers have been put on paid administrative leave, according to NewsOn6.
A newly-released surveillance video of the parking lot clearly showed officers jamming their knees into Luis Rodriguez’s prone body, and kicking him repeatedly — just as the family vividly described.
Cleveland County District Attorney Greg Mashburn, according to News 9, described this as an “appropriate law enforcement technique” that “was necessary.” He announced that he is refusing to press charges against the officers.
After 4 months of paid time off, the officers will be placed back on the streets to use their law enforcing techniques on others.