OKLAHOMA CITY (Free Press) — The City Council for Oklahoma City hired outside legal counsel Tuesday to represent the Oklahoma City Police Department Chief and five officers named in civil lawsuits from the shooting death of Stavian Rodriguez.
In addition, the refreshingly short meeting was made up of standard service agreement renewals to begin the new fiscal year FY22.
As Mayor David Holt was out, Ward 7 Councilwoman Nikki Nice presided in her capacity as Vice-Mayor and kept the meeting moving along at an efficient clip.
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In November of 2020, 15-year-old Stavian Rodriguez was shot and killed by police after allegedly attempting to rob a gas station.
Rodriguez climbed out of a drive-through window and proceeded to place a gun on the ground. Seconds later officers fired on the teen, striking him 13 times resulting in his death.
In March, District Attorney David Prater announced that his office was filing criminal charges against five of the officers who fired on Rodriguez. Corey Adams, Jonathan Skuta, Brad Pemberton, Jared Barton, and Bethany Sears have each been charged with First Degree Manslaughter, a felony.
To read the charging document and see five body-worn camera videos from the shooting:
In addition to the criminal charges, the officers now face a civil suit brought by the mother of Stavian Rodriguez.
Cameo Holland, Rodriguez’s mother, through her attorney, Rand C. Eddy filed a suit asking for damages in excess of $75,000 per count for violating Rodriguez’s civil rights.
The suit names the five officers who shot Rodgriguez, as well as Chief of Police Wade Gourley and the City of Oklahoma City. The venue is the Western District Court of Oklahoma federal court before the Honorable Bernard M. Jones.
Outside legal counsel
For Tuesday’s meeting of the City Council, several items on the agenda were for authorization to retain outside legal representation for the officers named in the lawsuit. Each of these items was discussed in Executive Session, which is common for discussions of personnel issues.
After returning from Executive Session, the remaining members of the Council voted on each item in turn, all of which passed 6-1. Ward 6 Councilor JoBeth Hamon voted no on each. Ward 2 Councilman James Cooper was absent for the votes.
The firm of Gary J. James & Associates will represent Corey Adams and will receive payment not to exceed $50,000.
Wood, Puhl, & Wood, PLLC. will represent Jonathan Skuta, again for services not to exceed $50,000.
Brad Pemberton, Jared Barton, and Bethany Sears will be represented by the firm of Collins, Zorn, and Wagner, P.C. The Oklahoma City Municipal Facilities Authority, which is made up of the members of the City Council, has an ongoing retainer with the firm, and the representation will be paid through that service agreement.
Free Press will continue to follow the Holland lawsuit and other details of the Rodriguez case.
The City Council meets next on July 20 at 8:30 a.m.
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Last Updated July 7, 2021, 12:32 PM by Brett Dickerson – Editor