A Hispanic family who did not speak English was attempting to pay for their items at a Florida Walmart Sunday night when a cop told them it was too late to make their purchases because the store had already closed – even though checkout lines were still filled with shoppers making their final purchases.
But the family was having trouble understanding the cop, according to a family member, which resulted in the cop escalating the situation into a bloody beatdown.
Naturally, the Jacksonville police officer who was working security that night blamed the victim for the attack so Yoel Rodriguez is now facing a felony charge of battery on a law enforcement officer.
But video recorded by witness along with statements from several witness indicate the cop was the one who struck first. It also shows the cop shoving the shopping cart into Rodriguez’s son, who appeared to be no older than four years old, as he escalated the interaction with Rodriguez.
The cop then grabbed Rodriguez’s arm which led to the man pulling his arm away. Twice.
“Don’t touch me,” the man said in Spanish.
That led to the cop punching him in the face, then taking him down to the floor where Rodriguez left a puddle of blood.
Walmart shopper Olivia Newton was a witness and said Walmart had announced on the intercom that they were closing but the family apparently did not understand. She posted three videos to Facebook with the following description:
Walmart was closing they made an announcement over the intercom because they did not speak English they did not know what was goin on , a Walmart employee proceeded to asks them to check out as yu see they were already in the check out line (SELF CHECK OUT ) (All LINES WERE FULL) , also as they keep saying they don’t speak English instead of the Walmart employees finding a way to communicate they called the police over he proceeded aggressively at the man as well , the man & his wife continued to say they don’t speak English , at that point the officer put his gloves on continued to ask the man to leave (not trying to find the right way to tell him so he can understand) called back up , the proceeded again to tell him to leave the man still not understanding at that point the officer push the buggy into the child (WHAT PARENT WOULDNT BE MAD WHEN U SEE YOUR CHILD HIT & CANT UNDERSTAND WHATS BEING SAID ) & the SITUATION ESCALATED
According to News4Jax, “large portions of the arrest report that likely contain more context were redacted by JSO” which is usually a sign of a coverup.
An eyewitness who didn’t want to be identified said it all started when he and his wife were waiting in the same long checkout line as Rodriguez.
“[Rodriguez’s] wife was in line. He went off to get something and came back,” the witness told News4Jax.
The witness and his wife said employees walked over to Rodriguez to tell him the store was closed and that he couldn’t keep shopping. The arrest report states the same, but according to the witness, it was obvious that Rodriguez didn’t understand what they were saying to him in English.
“If he had any English, it would have been a one or two-word English vocabulary,” the witness said.
Then the officer showed up and the situation turned violent.
“I don’t know exactly what the cop said, but I think he was telling him he had to leave. He wasn’t going to get to pay for his stuff. ‘I just need to pay. I just need to pay.’ The cop kept trying to grab his arm and he was like, ‘Don’t touch me. Why are you touching me? Don’t touch me.’ And the cop just whaled back and just popped the dude in the nose,” the witness said. “That cop should have never been called. I think he’s 40 percent at fault because he punched the guy. But Walmart should have never escalated it to the point where they’re harassing one of their customers, just because he’s grabbing something extra while his wife’s waiting in line.”
Although it is not evident in the video nor has it been corroborated by any witnesses, the president of the local police union, Steve Zona, posted the following on Facebook, claiming Rodriguez “hit the officer’s arm,” which under the current legal system, gives the cop the license to kill you.
It is abundantly clear that the defendant in this case not only hit the officer’s arm but he was actively pulling away and resisting the officer.
We are thankful that the officer was able to overcome the resistance and prevent severe injury to the defendant, injury to himself, or injury to innocent bystanders.
We have always supported complete and thorough investigations based on facts and evidence rather than sensationalism and inference. We are confident that any JSO review will be thorough and fair. As always, we will defend the officer’s rights to due process during any policy review, if necessary.
“They tell me the officer asked Yoel to leave, but Yoel didn’t understand what was going on. He was just shopping. I don’t understand why the officer did what he did,” Yoel’s nephew, David Rodriguez, told News4Jax.
Watch the video above which includes a portion in slow motion of what led to the beatdown.