The Moore American

March 5, 2014

Police release theater fight incident report

By Michael Kinney
The Moore American

MOORE — Luis Rodriguez refused to show police officers his identification and eventually “squared off” and took a fighting stance toward the officers, according to the official police incident report.

The two-page narrative describes what began as a possible domestic abuse call and ended with Rodriguez’s death early Feb. 15.

“I think that the police report is subjective,” Rodriguez family attorney Michael Brooks-Jime’nez said. “I remember from the (police chief) press conference they said he took a defensive stance. I don’t know if it makes a big difference or not, but it kind of changes the characterization of what he was doing. The only way we will know for sure what happens is the Warren Theatre video.”

In the report that redacted most names, including the names of Luis’ wife, Nair Rodriguez, and daughter, Lunahi Rodriguez, Moore Officers Ryan Minard and Joseph Bradley were dispatched to Warren Theatre on Feb. 14 to assist off-duty officers Brian Clarkston (MPD) and wildlife department game wardens Chad Strang and Tyler Howser, who were working as private security for the theater.

The off-duty officers were in contact with two intoxicated customers who had fallen asleep inside the theater, according to the report.

“While they were escorting the intoxicated customers outside to get a cab, officers were contacted by a customer (Stefanie Faber) regarding another incident happening at the same time,” the report states. “Faber informed Officer Strang and Officer Howser that she had just witnessed a physical fight outside the theater between what appeared to be family members.”

According to the report, Howser and Strang were the first to come upon the Rodriguez family after Faber pointed them out.

“Officer Howser observed the older female (redacted name), involved begin to walk away from the other two people (Luis and redacted name), so he began to call for her to stop and she refused to do so,” according to the report. “Howser said it was obvious that (redacted name) was upset as she was quickly walking away from (Luis and redacted name). Howser was able to get (redacted name) to stop after he flashed his flashlight in her direction.”

At that point, according to the report, (redacted name) admitted to Howser that she had struck her daughter in the face a few times because she had lied, been deceitful and called her dirty names. While talking to (redacted name), the report states that Howser observed the other officers involved in a struggle with Luis.

“Strang stated at the time of his initial contact he was unsure of the exact details of the assault,” according to the report. “Strang said he asked Luis what was going on and Luis advised him that it was none of his business and they were dealing with a ‘family matter.’ Strang said Luis eventually informed him that his wife had struck his daughter. Strang then informed Luis that he needed his identification, at which time he said he wasn’t giving it to him.”

In the report, Strang said Luis stepped back and crossed his arms and then tried to walk around him. That’s when Minard, Bradley and Clarkston intervened.

“Clarkston said Luis was taking (an) aggressive stance with Strang and attempted to get around him several times,” the report indicates. “Clarkston said he believed Luis was trying to go after (redacted name), who was a good distance away from them. Strang continued to ask Luis for identification, at which time he again stated he wasn’t going to give it to him.”

After a final request for his ID from Bradley, the report states Luis acted aggressively and got into a fighting stance in which he “squared off” with the officers. That is when, according to the report, Minard attempted to place Luis into investigative detention until they could ascertain his identity.

The report says Minard attempted to place an arm bar on Luis to place him in handcuffs, but Luis threw Minard off, according to the report.

“Once Luis became actively aggressive toward Minard, the other officers involved stepped in to get Luis under control,” according to the report. “Once the officers began to help Minard place Luis in handcuffs, Minard and Luis fell to the ground. Luis continued to ignore all requests by the officers to stop resisting and quit fighting them. The officers used several compliance techniques to get Luis under control and finally handcuffed.”

Brooks-Jime’nez said this proves Luis was not the aggressor.

“In the police report and the press conference, there has never been any dispute that my client wasn’t the first one to touch an officer,” Brooks-Jime’nez said. “It was the officer that grabbed his arm and started the physical altercation. At no point had he raised a hand to anybody or anything else, except trying to get to his wife.”

The report states the officers immediately called medical personnel, who were already on the scene.

“Paramedics arrived a short time later and loaded Luis into the ambulance where they proceeded to administer medical assistance to him,” according to the report. “While the paramedics were tending to Luis, he stopped breathing, so they transported him to Moore Medical Center next door, where he was stabilized.”

The report states that Luis was taken for a CT scan. Once it was complete, Luis stopped breathing and died a short time later.

According to Moore Police Department’s Sgt. Jeremy Lewis, at no time was 911 called to either of the two incidents that took place at the theater. Also, the officers did not use their personal recording devices during the altercation.

“The two officers who responded have cameras in their cars,” Lewis said. “And when those cameras come on, that’s how their audio works when the lights come on. But they weren’t there on an incident where the lights would come on. That’s why they were not working.

“They can (push the button themselves), but we don’t have any audio of the altercation, for whatever reason. I don’t know if it’s because it happened so fast or what, but it will have to come out in the investigation.”

Brooks-Jime’nez said this speaks to the officers’ training.

“I think it goes to proper training and whether or not these police officers were properly trained,” Brooks-Jime’nez said. “If the city is going to outfit them with recording devices, it would make sense that they would use them, especially if they thought there was the potential for some violent encounter.”

Michael Kinney Follow me @eyeamtruth