The attorney for the mother of Stavian Rodriguez has given notice to the City of Oklahoma City of a tort claim for his death in the amount of $175,000, the maximum allowable under state law.
He is also demanding that the Oklahoma City Police Department preserve all video evidence.
Police shot and killed Rodriguez at a southside convenience store where the 15-year-old had attempted an armed robbery. The clerk locked him inside and called police. When the police arrived they confronted him as he crawled out the drive-through window with a gun in his hand.
A video by a KOCO-TV news photograher showed Rodriguez responding to officers by surrendering, placing his gun on the ground, then, raising his hands back up. But, when he lowered his hands down again he was shot multiple times by several officers.
Statements to TV crews by spokesperson MSgt Gary Knight at the scene that night were that Rodriguez did not “follow officers’ instructions.”
The Police Department is one department among many in the City of Oklahoma City government and so, the legal action will be against the City.
To learn more about this situation, see our report:
The notice sent to the City by Rand Eddy, attorney for Rodriguez’s mother Cameo Holland, accuses the officers of being “negligent.”
“Members of the City of Oklahoma City Police Department were negligent, while acting within the course and scope of their employment, in fatally shooting Stavian,” part of the notice reads.
The attorney, Rand Eddy, held a news conference at the Oklahoma County Courthouse Monday afternoon with Holland by his side as well as several advocates for the family and staff from Eddy’s firm.
“This is just the first step in the legal process for us, that will culminate in the filing of a lawsuit under state and federal law in federal court,” Eddy said about the notice.
“We have also put the City of Oklahoma City on notice via correspondence that we would like all video footage, including body cam, text messages, evidence, video footage shot by witnesses at the scene preserved, we want this evidence preserved.”
“And we don’t want to see any kind of hide up, cover up, anything like that,” Eddy continued. “The city department claims they’re doing a just, valid investigation. And this is just making sure they do that.”
Eddy said that police spokesperson statements after the shooting said that he was not following the officers’ commands which contradicts what the video and eye-witness statements have said.
“I’m here to seek justice on behalf of my client, Cameo, because she’s going through a devastating time as the mother of this poor boy,” said Eddy.
He explained that with a governmental tort claim in Oklahoma the most anyone can get is $175,000 and that’s why they are suing for that amount.
But, they also plan to file a federal suit.
“Now, in a civil rights action under federal law, 42 USC [United States Code], section 1983, there is no cap [on] damages or unlimited – including punitive – damages,” Eddy said.
Demands to preserve video
Eddy also sent a letter to OCPD Chief Wade Gourley demanding that the department preserve “any and all evidence, interviews including those of witnesses, text messages between officers and video footage of this shooting.”
“This includes,” the letter continues, “but is not limited to all body camera footage taken at the scene from all officers and all video footage confiscated or viewed by OKCPD from any and all individuals/witnesses at the scene regardless of whether the footage captures the actual shooting.”
“Lying in the streets”
Eddy said that as a “concerned citizen” in Oklahoma City he could not remember a time when “this type of conduct, this pervasive conduct, has stood and continued for so long.”
“The Oklahoma City Police Department’s record is not good in this regard,” Eddy said. “I think statistics show that they might be the second worst in the country as far as killing and especially killing individuals of a minority race, black individuals, individuals that are suffering from mental illness, drug drug addiction, poverty, and those are usually the individuals you’ll find coming into contact with police in the criminal justice system.”
“And there’s just too many that have been shot or killed and lying on the streets,” said Eddy.
Sustain our journalism by becoming a supporter
Oklahoma City Free Press is dedicated to providing high quality journalism that positively impacts our community. Click this linkto support our mission.