City rejects request for police body-worn camera recordings of Rodriguez killing
Police officers’ body-worn camera recordings of the Nov. 23 killing of 15-year-old Stavian Rodriguez won't be released “at this time,” an attorney for the city of Oklahoma City says in a letter to an attorney for the boy’s mother.
Attorney Rand Eddy filed a lawsuit Feb. 2 seeking release of the video on behalf of Cameo Holland. In a letter to the city attorney’s office the previous Friday, Eddy said more than six weeks had passed without a response to his initial request.
Rodriguez was shot to death by police responding to a report of an attempted armed robbery at a south Oklahoma City gas station.
In a letter dated the same day the lawsuit was filed, Jason Perez, an assistant city attorney, denied the request for the video, saying the police department's investigation was ongoing.
He said investigators anticipated presenting their findings to Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater by the next day, Feb. 3.
No mention was made of any plans for an independent investigation or review of the findings.
“The Open Records Act does allow for the redaction or obscuring of footage that could compromise an ongoing criminal investigation or prosecution,” Perez wrote.
“We are also researching whether the video can be released or should be obscured because of the fact a minor is shown,” he wrote.
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The Oklahoman’s request for the video has been denied on the same grounds.
Police eventually released body-worn camera recordings in 2019 to the mother of a 14-year-old boy who was shot and wounded in March of that year by an Oklahoma City police sergeant.
The mother’s attorney provided that video to The Washington Post, which published it. That case led to a federal lawsuit against the officer and the city of Oklahoma City.
Police officers shot Stavian Rodriguez on a Monday night outside Okie Gas Express, 7917 S Western Ave.
The boy was suspected of an attempted armed robbery. He had been locked inside by a clerk and emerged through a drive-thru window after being ordered to come outside by police.
TV news video appeared to show Rodriguez outside the gas station, dropping a gun. The boy raises his hands, then lowers them before being shot.
The boy’s death was followed less than three weeks later by the killing of a Black man who family members said was mentally ill, prompting two days of protests over police violence shortly before Christmas.
State law says portions of recordings that identify officers who become subject to internal investigation may be withheld until the investigation is concluded. The unedited recordings then are subject to disclosure.
Eddy wrote in his Feb. 2 lawsuit that “numerous officers yelled numerous commands” at Rodriguez.
Eyewitnesses said the boy complied yet was shot “with no sufficient cause to justify the use of deadly force,” Eddy wrote.
Staff writer William Crum covers city government, the mayor's office, police budgets and reform, elections and more. For civic news, subscribe at oklahoman.com.