Fernando Octavio Rodriguez was tased more than 16 times, then pinned to the ground after he had already lost consciousness.
The family of a 24-year-old man Georgia man who died in police custody has reached a large settlement with the city of Hampton and several of its police officers, who repeatedly tased Fernando Octavio Rodriguez and then pinned him to the ground.
Rodriguez’s family, says The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, recently announced that they will accept a $3 million settlement from the Metro Atlanta city of Hampton and its police department.
The lawsuit, notes the Journal-Constitution, had also named as defendants Hampton police Officers Gregory Bowlden, Mason Lewis, and Marcus Stroud.
“This settlement resolves the case brought by our firm on behalf of Mr. Rodriguez’s family against the city and its officers,” family attorney Page Pate said in a statement.
However, the Journal-Constitution notes that the Rodriguez family is still pursuing legal action against Henry County and two Henry officers, Robert Butera and Quinton Phillips.
“Our claims against Henry County and several of its officers remain pending in federal court,” Pate added.
According to the Journal-Constitution, the lawsuit was first filed in May of this year. It described how Fernando Octavio Rodriguez had attended a music festival on September 20, 2019.
After the festival, someone called police to report that Rodriguez was walking around naked.
When officers encountered Rodriguez, he initially refused to cooperate.
However, the situation escalated and ended with officers tasing Rodriguez 16 times. After Rodriguez was on the ground, officers then kneeled on his body until he lost consciousness.
“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,” Pate said in an earlier statement. “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.”
Officers can be heard making degrading—and strange—comments after Rodriguez lost consciousness.
When they realize that Rodriguez had stopped breathing, one officer remarks that he “didn’t want to have to beat the boy to death.” He then asks his colleagues if they “remember what happened with the last one.”
Rodriguez was taken away in an ambulance and died two days later in the hospital.
The department did not initiate significant disciplinary proceedings against any of the involved officers; while Stroud resigned in 2019, Bowlden and Lewis are still employed by the Hampton Police Department.
The officers, adds 11Alive.com, are currently under investigation by the Henry County District Attorney’s Office.