Pate, Johnson and Church represents the family of Fernando Octavio Rodriguez, a twenty-four year old young man who died after being tazed by police officers numerous times while laying on the ground, unarmed, naked, and in need of medical attention.
Our firm filed a Section 1983 lawsuit in the Northern District of Georgia on behalf of Mr. Rodriguez’s family, which accuses the officers, the City of Hampton and Henry County, Georgia, of violating Mr. Rodriguez’s constitutional rights and wrongfully causing his death.
11 Alive News aired the footage of the encounter between Mr. Rodriguez and the officers, and subsequently interviewed Attorney Jess Johnson and Octavio Rodriguez, the brother of Fernando Rodriguez, for comments on the encounter and subsequent death of Mr. Rodriguez.
Octavio Rodriguez tells 11 Alive that his brother “was murdered, and I had to see it over and over and over,” and that seeing this “felt horrible, because knowing that my brother needed help, knowing that he was crying and screaming for help…”
Attorney Jess Johnson comments that “These officers recognize that he’s no longer breathing. He’s unresponsive. And instead of getting off of him, and rendering medical aid, they continue to pin him to the ground.”
On behalf of Mr. Rodriguez’s family, our firm has accepted a settlement of $3 million for their claims against the City of Hampton and those involved police officers. We are still pursuing the lawsuit against Henry County and two Henry County police officers, who were also involved in the death of Mr. Rodriguez.
Cheryl: A family is talking to us tonight about what they consider to be justice after a man died after officers allegedly tased him 15 times, the family’s attorney sharing bodycam video of what happened, after filing a federal lawsuit against the departments involved, and we want to warn you, it is difficult to watch. Brittany Kleinpeter has the story.
Officer: I’m gonna tase you.
Man: Go ahead, [inaudible 00:00:23]
Officer: [inaudible 00:00:23]
Octavius: He was murdered, and I had to see it over and over and over [inaudible 00:00:30]
Officer: Roll over.
Octavius: It’s not right.
Brittany: It’s been two years since 24-year-old Fernando Octavio Rodriguez died at a hospital after he was allegedly tased by police 15 times. His brother tells me Rodriguez was the oldest of three boys, and could light up the dark with his smile.
Octavius: And he was a very outgoing person. He was a lovely, lovely soul.
Brittany: He says he’s watched the officer’s bodycam footage from the night of September 20th hundreds of times, and it still impacts him the same way.
Octavius: I get outraged. I get out of control.
Officer: Dude, you bite me and I’m gonna kick your teeth out. This arm ain’t moving, I’ll break it.
Brittany: According to a federal lawsuit, Rodriguez was found naked walking down a road in Henry County in 2019 after his family says he had attended a music festival. Officers with the Hampton Police Department and Henry County Police Department responded. In the video given to us by an attorney representing the family, you can see Rodriguez turn and say something, but the audio is cut out. He continues to walk away. He’s then tased as officers order him to roll over.
Officer: Roll over.
Brittany: His family says officers made jokes before realizing he had stopped breathing.
Officer: Can you believe I’ve done this this long and this is my first naked man?
Officer: He’s quit breathing.
Officer: Are you serious?
Officer: [inaudible 00:01:45]
Officer: Wake your butt up.
Octavius: It felt horrible, because knowing that my brother needed help, knowing that he was crying and screaming for help…
Brittany: Rodriguez was taken to a hospital, and died two days later. The family’s attorney says the medical examiner ruled the death a homicide as a result of asphyxia. The family has now filed a federal lawsuit against the city of Hampton and Henry County Police Department.
Jess: These officers recognize that he’s no longer breathing. He’s unresponsive. And instead of getting off of him, and rendering medical aid, they continue to pin him to the ground.
Brittany: The lawsuit alleges police violated Rodriguez’s rights, and wrongfully caused his death. The officers involved are now under a criminal investigation by the Henry County District Attorney’s office.
Cheryl: The family’s attorney tells 11 Alive that they have not received any medical reports yet to indicate that Rodriguez was under the influence of a drug, and his family says he has no history of mental illness. We reached out to each police agency for comment. We have not heard back yet.