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December 21, 2014

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Video released of deadly police confrontation outside theater

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Sue Ogrocki / AP

Attorney Michael Brooks-Jimenez, left, speaks at a news conference in Oklahoma City, Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2014. At right is Nair Rodriguez. At the news conference, the family of Luis Rodriguez, a man who died after a struggle with police outside an Oklahoma movie theater, released a cellphone video of the incident that shows the man on his stomach on the ground with five officers restraining him, including one officer holding his head down.

OKLAHOMA CITY — The family of a man who died after a struggle with police outside an Oklahoma movie theater released a cellphone video Tuesday, which shows five officers restraining the man face down on the ground, with one officer holding his head down.

Minutes later, Nair Rodriguez, who shot the nearly 6-minute video of her husband, Luis Rodriguez, outside a Moore theater earlier this month, starts to scream as he's placed on a stretcher.

"Papa! Is he OK? He doesn't move. He doesn't move! You kill him! You kill him! You killed my husband! Please somebody tell me that he's alive!" she screams. A police officer assures Nair Rodriguez that her husband is alive and that medical personnel will take care of him.

Early on Feb. 15, police responded to a report of a domestic disturbance and tried to question Luis Rodriguez, Moore Police Chief Jerry Stillings said at a news conference last week. Rodriguez was pepper-sprayed before officers used two pairs of handcuffs to restrain him as he was face down on the ground, Stillings said.

Nair Rodriguez has told media outlets that police beat her husband and that he died outside the theater, but there are no signs of punching or kicking in the video. Stillings has said there are no indications that batons or other weapons were used.

Moore police spokesman Jeremy Lewis said Tuesday afternoon that Luis Rodriguez died at a nearby hospital, and that emergency medical services don't transport people who have already died. The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation took over the investigation last week, and Lewis said part of their job is to look into whether Rodriguez was dead by the time he reached the hospital.

A spokeswoman for the Oklahoma State Medical Examiner's Office said autopsy reports are pending a toxicology report, which could take up to two months.

The Rodriguez family held a news conference Tuesday to release the video. Nair Rodriguez thanked the media for covering the case, but did not take questions.

The video starts with five officers — two on-duty and three off-duty who were moonlighting as security at the movie theater— trying to restrain Rodriguez. Once they have him in handcuffs, a police officer comes over and starts talking to Nair Rodriguez about the incident. She acknowledges she hit her 19-year-old daughter, and the officer explains that Luis Rodriguez became uncooperative and refused to give his ID.

"Is he bleeding?" Nair Rodriguez asks the officer.

"I'm bleeding. That's me," the officer says.

The video then shows Luis Rodriguez propped up in a seated position against the legs of an officer before he is placed on a stretcher.

Stillings refused to answer a question last week that asked if Rodriguez was breathing when he was handcuffed. But Rodriguez's back appears to be moving up and down in the cellphone video as he lies on his stomach.

Police said three officers involved in the incident are on administrative leave. Their names have not been released. Two of the off-duty officers work at the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, and they have not been placed on leave, according to agency spokesman Micah Holmes.

Before the OSBI took over, Stillings said police had viewed the cellphone video and made a copy. He said last week that he didn't see anything inappropriate in it. OSBI spokeswoman Jessica Brown said she could not comment on the investigation.

Rodriguez family attorney Michael Brooks-Jimenez said Tuesday that Luis Rodriguez was known in his family and his church as a peacemaker.

"Luis committed no crime. He wasn't armed. No gun. No knife. No weapon of any kind. But Luis was the one who lost his life that night," Brooks-Jimenez said as he stood next to Nair Rodriguez and other family members.

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