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Settlement Reached in Lawsuit Over 2019 Death at Music Festival

— July 27, 2021

Earlier this month, the city of Hampton agreed to settle a wrongful death lawsuit with the family of Fernando Octavio Rodriguez for $3 million.

A settlement was recently reached between the family of a 24-year-old Atlanta man and the city of Hampton for $3 million. According to the suit, Fernando Octavio Rodriguez died in police custody back in 2019 and after police officers “deployed their Tasers multiple times on his naked body and pinned him to the ground.” Rodriguez’s family agreed to the settlement agreement with the city and officers Gregory Bowlden, Mason Lewis, and Marcus Stroud earlier this month, according to Page Pate, the family’s attorney.

Handshake; image courtesy of Shutterbug75 via Pixabay,

When commenting on the matter, Pate said, “This settlement resolves the case brought by our firm on behalf of Mr. Rodriguez’s family against the city and its officers.” Pate said. It’s important to note, however, that while the suit against the officers is resolved, the family is still working on taking legal action against Henry County, along with two county police officers, Robert Butera and Quinton Phillips. Both of the officers took part in the fatal incident.

Pate added, “Our claims against Henry County and several of its officers remain pending in federal court.”

The suit was originally filed back in March and alleged that Rodriguez was “stunned at least 16 times following a music festival on Sept. 20, 2019.” While discussing the incident, Pate said “the officers also made unprofessional statements about the naked man while he was writhing in pain and kneeled on his body until he lost consciousness.” Pate added

“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…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.”

What happened, though? What prompted the officers to approach Rodriguez in the first place? Well, according to the suit, police confronted him when he was leaving the “Imagine Music Festival at Atlanta Motor Speedway.” The suit stated, “Officers encountered a naked Rodriguez about 10 p.m. after someone called 911 and reported that an ‘unclothed man’ was walking near the intersection of Oak Street and Windsor Parkway.” 

The exchange between Rodriguez and the officers was reportedly volatile and lasted for about 30 minutes. Fortunately for the plaintiffs, body camera footage from one of the officers showed the entire incident, including when he was tased and later lifted into an ambulance. To make matters worse, the footage also showed the officers involved “standing and kneeling on Rodriguez’s body for nearly 10 minutes while waiting for an ambulance to arrive.” The video also captured a heated verbal exchange between Rodriguez and the officers, including officers “telling Rodriguez to lay on his stomach,” which Rodriguez refused to do.

By the time the ambulance arrived, Rodriguez was unresponsive and rushed to Grady Memorial Hospital. While there, his medical team noted he was “suffering from respiratory failure, renal failure, anoxic brain injury, cardiac arrest and acute blood loss anemia.” Tragically, he passed away two days later.


Family, police settle lawsuit for $3M in death of naked man stunned after festival

Federal lawsuit filed against Hampton, Henry County, police officers for wrongful death

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