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5 Georgia Officers Indicted After Naked Man Dies During Arrest Where He Was Held Down While Unresponsive

McDonough, GA – A Henry County grand jury indicted five police officers on Friday in connection with the death of 24-year-old Fernando Rodriguez who died during an arrest.

The incident occurred on Sept. 20, 2019 when officers encountered a stark-naked Rodriguez outside “Imagine Fest” at the Atlanta Motor Speedway, the Daily Mail reported.

There has been no explanation for why Rodriguez was naked but family members suspected he may have taken drugs at the concert, WSB reported.

Bodycam video from the incident showed that Rodriguez ignored officers’ commands to stop and was walking away when he was Tased.

Rodriguez went to the pavement after the first zap, but he didn’t become cooperative.

Bodycam video showed the suspect resisted arrest, including trying to bite the officers, when they tried to handcuff him.

Officers Tased Rodriguez at least 12 times as they fought to try to take him into custody, the video showed.

The Henry County Attorney’s Office told the grand jury that the officers held Rodriguez down and applied pressure to his body as they Tased him, the Daily Mail reported.

Video showed that officers used obscene language and repeatedly threatened the suspect if he didn’t cooperate.

Rodriguez stopped breathing while he was detained and officers called for an ambulance, the video showed.

He was transported to Grady Memorial Hospital where he later died, the Daily Mail reported.

Charging documents said the medical examiner determined that Rodriguez had died from asphyxiation.

Rodriguez’s family filed a wrongful death lawsuit again the Henry County police and Hampton police on May 11, the Daily Mail reported.

The complaint alleged that the video showed officers made fun of Rodriguez as they arrested him.

One of the officers threatened to kick in his teeth and another called him a “sweaty little hog” in the video, according to the lawsuit.

The complaint alleged that officers held Rodriguez down for four minutes after he became unresponsive during his arrest, the Daily Mail reported.

The city of Hampton settled with the family for $3 million in July.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) headed up the criminal probe into Rodriguez’s death, the Daily Mail reported.

Prosecutors took the case before the grand jury and on Nov. 19 and the panel determined that the officers should face criminal charges for Rodriguez’s 2019 death after two days of testimony, WSB reported.

Henry County Police Officers Robert Butera and Quinton Phillips and former Hampton Police Officers Mason Lewis, Marcus Stroud, and Gregory Bowlden were each charged with one count of malice murder, two counts of felony murder, one count of aggravated assault, and one count of violation of oath of office.

Warrants for the arrests of the officers were issued on Monday, WGCL reported.

Each of the officers was granted a $100,000 bond and was ordered to themselves in by 5 p.m. on Tuesday.

All of the Hampton officers resigned from the police department following the incident.

The employment status of the Henry County police officers was unknown, the Daily Mail reported.

Rodriguez’s family was pleased to hear about the indictment.

“Fernando’s family has been patiently waiting for justice in this case and they are very glad to see that the process is now moving forward,” Page A. Pate, the attorney representing the family, told reporters. “We are especially grateful that the officers have all been charged with murder and we think the charges fit the crime.”

Written by
Sandy Malone

Managing Editor - Twitter/@SandyMalone_ - Prior to joining The Police Tribune, Sandy wrote the Politics.Net column for the Wall Street Journal and was managing editor of Campaigns & Elections magazine. More recently, she was an internationally-syndicated columnist for Conde Nast (BRIDES), The Huffington Post, and Monsters and Critics. Sandy is married to a retired police captain and former SWAT commander.

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Written by Sandy Malone

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