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OKLAHOMA CITY (Free Press) — Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater has charged five Oklahoma City police officers with First Degree Manslaughter in the police shooting death of 15-year-old Stavian Rodriguez.

The five are:

Officer Bethany Sears (5 ½ years of service)
Officer Jared Barton (4 ½ years of service)
Officer Corey Adams (3 years of service)
Officer John Skuta (2 ½ years of service)
Officer Brad Pemberton (3 years of service)

Sergeant Sarah Carli, who fired a less-lethal weapon was included in the investigation but was not charged.

(Body-worn camera videos, some redacted, are embedded at the end of this report.)

Rodriguez was shot by the officers at the end of a botched robbery of a convenience store on the south side the night of November 23, 2020.

His accomplice, Wyatt Cheatham, then 16 and now 17, was not injured and was arrested later. Cheatham has been charged with murder since he committed a crime in which there was a death.

To learn more: “He’s not a killer” says mother of teen accomplice in robbery

Protests and demands for OKCPD Chief Wade Gourley’s resignation came after the shooting and have continued to contribute to festering community relations between the police and some community members.

To learn more: Response to Stavian Rodriguez death strains police-community relations

protest
Sara Bana speaks during a protest in front of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 123 meeting hall Dec. 5, 2020. The protest was about the police shooting death of Stavian Rodriguez. (BRETT DICKERSON/Okla City Free Press)

Reactions

“I think it was appropriate,” T. Sheri Dickerson with Black Lives Matter OKC told Free Press in response to hearing about the charges. “It was so brutal in the way that they took the life of Stavian that there really wasn’t any other choice.”

Dickerson has been at the forefront of putting pressure on the OKCPD to change course when it comes to shootings.

“The Oklahoma City Police Department for a very long time seems to not have had any concerns about consequences when they use lethal force because there has never been any before,” said Dickerson. “And so, maybe this will pivot their decision on using it so quickly.”

But the union that represents the sworn officers of the department, Oklahoma City Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 123 (FOP-OKC), had a very different response.

“Officers must make life and death decisions in a split second, relying on their training. When an armed robbery suspect did not obey police commands, five officers perceived the same threat and simultaneously fired their weapons,” the prepared response read.

“A loss of life is always a tragedy and we know these officers did not take firing their weapons lightly. The OKC FOP stands by these officers and maintains they acted within the law.”

Autopsy

The autopsy report obtained and reported by KFOR and News9 showed that Rodriguez was shot 13 times spanning from his head to his feet with the majority of the shots above his waist.

Any one of several of those wounds would have been life-threatening but the compounding of serious wounds by pistols and assault rifles gave the youth little chance of survival.

The head wound damaged his brain. One shot severed his spinal cord and another severed a major artery.

Charges

The five officers charged all have the same charge, Manslaughter in the First Degree, which is a felony offense.

Free Press has obtained the arrest affidavit filed in State Court in Oklahoma County Wednesday. The same narrative showing probable cause for their arrest is used for each of the five officers.

It says that the five “willfully, unlawfully, and unnecessarily killed Stavian Rodriguez, by shooting him with a firearm, while resisting an attempt by the deceased to commit a crime or after such attempt had failed …,” causing his death.

An officer with the Oklahoma District Attorney’s Council, Willard Paige, conducted the investigation for DA Prater and his report is included in the affidavit.

Surveillance video and body-worn camera video were cited in reconstructing the situation that resulted in Rodriguez’s death.

The report says that when Rodriguez crawled out of the drive-through window officers began “simultaneously giving him varying commands.”

Then the immediate sequence of events are described leading up to Rodriguez being shot.

“Stavian Rodriguez lifts his shirt showing his waistline. He pulls a firearm from his pants with his laft hand, holding it by his thumb and forefinger. He drops the firearm on the ground. He then puts his left hand in his rear left pocket and his right hand at his front right pocket or waistline.”

The report says what is clear in the body-worn camera videos: That the lethal shots that killed Rodriguez happened shortly after Sgt. Sarah Carli fires the less-lethal round that struck Rodriguez.

OCPD-Stavian-Rodriguez-Shooting-Case

Five body-worn camera videos

These are the body-worn camera videos — some redacted — released by the OKCPD Wednesday afternoon.

CAUTION! — THESE VIDEOS SHOW THE SHOOTING DEATH OF STAVIAN RODRIGUEZ

Sgt. Sarah Carli (not charged)

Officer Jonathan Skuta

Officer Corey Adams

Officer Bradley Pemberton

Officer Bethany Sears

Last Updated March 11, 2021, 10:08 AM by Brett Dickerson – Editor