5 Oklahoma officers face manslaughter charges in shooting of 15-year-old armed robbery suspect

Five Oklahoma police officers were charged with manslaughter Wednesday in the fatal shooting of a 15-year-old armed robbery suspect last year.

In November, Stavian Rodriguez was killed after officers responded to a report of an armed robbery at an Oklahoma City gas station, authorities said.

The owner of the gas station managed to leave and lock Rodriguez inside as officers surrounded the business, police said. Rodriguez was shot after he climbed out the drive-thru window, police said.

Security camera footage released by the Oklahoma County District Attorney’s Office Wednesday shows Rodriguez emerge from the convenience store building as officers yell for him to show his hands, lay on the ground and drop his firearm. Rodriguez can be seen dropping a gun on the ground and reaching toward his back pocket before the officers open fire.

PHOTO: The Oklahoma City District Attorney's Office released security footage from the fatal police-involved shooting of Stavian Rodriguez, pictured, on Nov. 23, 2020.
credit: Oklahoma City District Attorney's Office

In the charging documents, District Attorney David Prater claimed that the five officers “acted jointly, willfully, unlawfully and unnecessarily killed Stavian Rodriguez.”

Rodriguez had no other weapons besides the firearm that he dropped, according to the probable cause affidavit.

“A cellphone was recovered from the left rear pocket he had his hand in at the time he was shot,” it stated.

Rodriguez suffered from 13 gunshot wounds, according to the affidavit.

PHOTO: Stavian Rodriguez is pictured in an undated family photo.

The officers who discharged their firearms during the incident were charged with first-degree manslaughter on Wednesday. They are Corey Adams, 28; Jared Barton, 33; Brad Pemberton, 31; Bethany Sears, 30; and John Skuta, 34.

All officers are currently on paid administrative leave.

A sixth officer, Sgt. Sarah Carli, who fired a “less lethal weapon” during the incident, was not charged, the Oklahoma City Police Department said in a statement Wednesday.

The department also released the body-worn camera footage from the Nov. 23 incident from five of the officers on Wednesday. Rodriguez’s mother, Cameo Holland, had previously filed a lawsuit against the city demanding the release of the footage.

In the footage, an officer can be heard over a loudspeaker repeatedly telling Rodriguez to come out with his hands up as officers position themselves around the gas station.

After the shooting, Rodriguez is handcuffed while on the ground. A few minutes later, responding emergency medical technicians administer aid. Rodriguez was transported to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead, police said.

PHOTO: The Oklahoma City Police Department released body-worn camera footage of a fatal police-involved shooting on Nov. 23, 2020.

The Oklahoma Police Department referred all questions to the Oklahoma County district attorney. ABC News was unable to reach the district attorney’s office for comment.

The Oklahoma City police union defended the actions of the five officers facing manslaughter charges.

“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,” OKC Fraternal Order of Police President John George said in a statement Wednesday. “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.”

The officers aren’t the only ones charged in Rodriguez’s death. Wyatt Cheatham, 17, an alleged accomplice in the robbery who was not at the gas station at the time of the shooting, was charged with first-degree murder in December.

In Oklahoma, a person can be charged with felony murder if someone dies while certain types of felonies are being committed, according to Oklahoma City ABC affiliate KOCO.

The felony charge against Cheatham has drawn recent demonstrations, with protesters saying the teen deserves lesser charges.

This case marks the second time in two weeks the district attorney has charged an Oklahoma City officer with manslaughter.

Sgt. Clifford Holman was charged with first-degree manslaughter last month for the fatal shooting of Bennie Edwards in December.

ABC News’ Jennifer Watts contributed to this report.

Source: Read Full Article