Our firm has been helping clients and their families pursue cases against police departments and police officers in civil rights cases involving police brutality or excessive force for over 25 years. At times, the media will contact us for comments about our clients’ involvement or to gain a better understanding of the case. When it is in the best interest of our clients, we will speak with media in order to have our clients’ side of the story heard by the public.
In this case, our firm represents the family of Fernando Octavio Rodriguez, a twenty-four year old young man who died after an encounter with the Henry County Police Department and the City of Hampton Police Department. Mr. Rodriguez was tased by officers 15 times while laying on the ground, unarmed, naked, and in need of medical attention. Mr. Rodriguez’s family has filed a federal lawsuit in the Northern District of Georgia which accuses the officers, along with the city and county, of violating Mr. Rodriguez’s constitutional rights and wrongfully causing his death.
The Atlanta Journal Constitution interviewed Attorneys Page Pate and Jess Johnson about Mr. Rodriguez’s death and the lawsuit our firm has filed on behalf of the family. Page explains that “The complaint then alleges that officers placed Mr. Rodriguez on his stomach, known as the prone position, handcuffed him, and kneeled and stood on his head, neck and back,” and “video from body cameras shows that officers became aware that Mr. Rodriguez had stopped breathing and was unresponsive, but the officers continued to pin Mr. Rodriguez to the ground for several minutes.” Jess explains that “At that point, they are required to render medical aid or at least get off him so he can breathe. And that wasn’t done.”
Mr. Rodriguez died at the hospital two days later. Page comments that the medical examiner ruled his death a homicide “as a result of his interaction with law enforcement.” Page also says that “During Fernando’s arrest, he was in extreme pain and suffering, both physically and mentally, having been tasered multiple times by the Defendant Officers and unable to breathe due to the Defendant Officers’ actions.”
Jess tells the AJC that Mr. Rodriguez might have been in a state of mind that rendered him unable to follow the officers’ orders, and further explains that the firm has not “received the toxicology report yet, but it is probably likely that he was under the influence of something and wasn’t able to follow commands.”
The officers involved in Mr. Rodriguez’s death are now under criminal investigation by the Henry County District Attorney’s Office. The family has requested a jury trial and compensatory damages to compensate for the full value of Mr. Rodriguez’s life.