Even after the five Georgia cops tortured Fernando Rodriguez for 15 minutes, tasering him repeatedly before piling on top of him with all their body weight and forcing his face into the asphalt and their knees into his back, they refused to believe he had stopped breathing when the struggle subsided.
“He’s holding his breath,” one cop assured the other officers after one of them noticed he had stopped breathing.
“He’s playing possum,” another cop informed an arriving paramedic.
But the 24-year-old man never regained consciousness. He was transported to a local hospital where doctors determined he was suffering from respiratory failure, renal failure, anoxic brain injury, cardiac arrest and acute blood loss anemia.
And he was pronounced dead less than three days later. An autopsy determined the cause of death to be “asphyxia due to physical restraint in prone position with compression of chest.”
In other words, the cops suffocated him to death.
On Friday, more than two years after his death, a grand jury indicted each of the five cops on one count of malice murder, two counts of felony murder and one count of aggravated assault. The grand jury also charged each officer with one count of violation of oath office, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
The indicted cops are Henry County police officers Robert Butera and Quinton Phillips, and Hampton police officers Marcus Stroud, Gregory Bowlden and Mason Lewis. The latter three have all resigned, according to NBC News.
The incident took place on September 20, 2019 following the Imagine Music Festival at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Rodriguez had attended the electronic music festival and was walking home alone. But at some point, he decided to take off all his clothes as he walked down the street about a mile from where the concert had taken place. Somebody called 911 to report a naked man walking down the street.
A lawsuit filed against the cops stated that Rodriguez was in need of medical attention that night but the cops treated him as if he were a violent criminal on the run, ordering him to lay down on the ground and tasering him when he continued walking.
The first cops to arrive were Hampton police officers Lewis and Stroud who wasted no time in tasering him when he did not comply with their orders to lay down on the ground. The first taser knocked him on the ground but he then sat down on the pavement and the cops wanted him on his stomach so they continued tasering him.
Minutes later, the Henry County cops arrived and also began tasering him. By the time it was over, the cops had tasered him at least 15 times.
Rodriguez’s family filed the lawsuit in May which you can read here. In July, the city of Hampton settled with the family for $3 million. The claim against Henry County remains pending.
Watch the shortened video below or the full 30-minute video here.