Five Georgia Police Officers Have Turned Themselves In After Being Charged With Murder In The Death Of A 24-Year-Old
Fernando Rodriguez was leaving the Imagine Music Festival in 2019 when the officers stopped repeatedly shocked him with a stun gun, even after he fell to the ground.
Five Georgia police officers turned themselves in on Tuesday after being indicted on murder charges in the death of 24-year-old Fernando Rodriguez, who was shocked by stun guns more than a dozen times in 2019 and later died of asphyxiation.
Rodriguez was walking near the Atlanta Motor Speedway after leaving the Imagine Music Festival on Sept. 20, 2019, when the officers stopped him. Graphic body camera footage provided to BuzzFeed News by his family's attorney, Page Pate, shows Rodriguez, who was naked, being repeatedly shocked with a stun gun even after he fell to the ground. Officers can also be heard shouting at Rodriguez to "roll over."
According to the Henry County prosecutors, Rodriguez died of asphyxiation "as a result of the officers holding him down on the ground while he was handcuffed and shackled, applying pressure to his body."
All five of the officers turned themselves in Monday and were released on $100,000 bond each, the Henry County Sheriff's Office confirmed.
A grand jury indicted the five officers last week. Henry County police officers Robert Butera and Quinton Phillips, and Hampton police officers Mason Lewis, Marcus Stroud, and Gregory Bowlden each face one count of malice murder, two counts of felony murder, one count of aggravated assault, and one individual count of violation of oath by public officer, according to court records.
Warrants for their arrests were issued Monday, and the officers had until 5 p.m. on Tuesday to turn themselves in, Henry County Assistant District Attorney Megan Matteucci told BuzzFeed News.
Rodriguez's family filed a lawsuit in May against Henry County, the city of Hampton, and the five officers. The lawsuit lays out the series of events that night in detail, including that the officers allegedly stood on parts of Rodriguez's body and pressed a knee in his back as he lay facedown.
The family settled against the city of Hampton and officers Lewis, Stroud, and Bowlden in July.
In a statement to BuzzFeed News on Tuesday, Pate urged the Henry County Commission to similarly approve a settlement with the family.
"Fernando was unarmed, naked, and in need of medical attention. Instead of trying to help Fernando, these officers tortured and killed him," he said. "The family understands that it’s still difficult in Georgia to get police officers charged with crimes much less convicted of crimes. We think this indictment is a good first step, but the case is far from over. "