The Moore American

February 21, 2014

Moore Police Department to hand over investigation to OSBI after man’s death at Warren Theatre

By Michael Kinney
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — A week after the death of Norman’s Luis Rodriguez, the Moore Police Department announced Thursday that it will request the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation take over the investigation.

“After speaking with the district attorney and going over a couple of key points in the incident, the department decided to turn the investigation over to OSBI,” Sgt. Jeremy Lewis said. “Greg Mashburn will probably be requesting (today) that OSBI investigate the incident.”

On the night of Feb. 14, Rodriguez was at the Warren Theatre in Moore when an argument broke out between Rodriguez’s wife, Nair Rodriguez, and his daughter, Lunahi Rodriguez, reports indicate.

According to the family, Nair headed to the parking lot and Luis chased after her to try and calm her down. MPD was already on scene in regard to a separate incident, according to Police Chief Jerry Stillings.

After being told of a possible domestic abuse, two off-duty Oklahoma Game Wardens and an off-duty MPD officer working as theater security joined three on-duty MPD officers to stop Luis.

A scuffle between Luis and the five officers ensued. According to the MPD, Luis was handcuffed and taken to the hospital, where he died. A cause of death has not been established.

However, Nair is accusing the MPD and private security guards of beating her husband to death at the theater.

Lewis noted several factors for turning the investigation over to the OSBI.

“There are two law enforcement agencies involved,” Lewis said. “One is a state agency, and a state agency shouldn’t investigate their own. Just the totality of circumstances and the spotlight that’s been shown own on it, we felt like it would be good for an outside source to look into the investigation.”

According to Lewis, once the OSBI takes over the investigation, the MPD will no longer be involved. All material and evidence that the department has accumulated will be turned over to the OSBI. That includes the video from the Warren Theatre parking lot and from Nair’s cell phone, which MPD made a copy of after seizing her phone.

“The OSBI is an independent agency,” Lewis said. “We felt it would be good to let another agency look at it. We’re not covering anything up or hiding anything.”

However, Lewis said bringing in the OSBI had nothing to do with the public accusations being levied at the department.

“We didn’t have any specific people that we know that are demanding that we give this to anyone,” Lewis said. “It was more of just the totality of all the circumstances. We really didn’t feel right in investigating a state police officer. It just made sense to let them do the investigation at this point.”

Yet on Wednesday, State Rep. Mike Shelton requested that the OSBI be brought in to investigate.

“We are hearing many concerns from family and witnesses about the actions of the Moore police officers that night,” Shelton said in a news release. “For the sake of an impartial investigation, I believe the OSBI must step in and take this inquiry over from the Moore Police Department. To avoid having this situation turn into an even bigger controversy, I believe state officials should be put in charge.”

Three MPD officers have been placed on administrative leave following the incident. They have yet to be identified.

 

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