Autopsy rules Oklahoma man’s death a homicide

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) – The death of a man who struggled with police outside an Oklahoma movie theater was ruled a homicide on Wednesday, but the chief medical examiner said the injuries alone didn’t cause the death.

Luis Rodriguez, 44, died as a result of cardiac arrhythmia due to physical restraint and an underlying heart condition, Amy Elliott, spokeswoman for the Chief Medical Examiner’s Office said in a statement.

“Postmortem examination revealed evidence of a physical struggle; however, the noted injuries and associated hemorrhages are not sufficient by themselves to cause the decedent’s death,” Elliott wrote in an email about the findings.

Early on Feb. 15, police responded to a report of a domestic disturbance outside a Moore theater and tried to question Rodriguez, Moore Police Chief Jerry Stillings has said. Rodriguez was pepper-sprayed before five officers used two pairs of handcuffs to restrain him as he was face down on the ground, Stillings said.

Rodriguez’s wife, Nair, had told media outlets that police beat her husband. Nair Rodriguez and other family members also released partial video of the incident, which showed police handcuffing Rodriguez as he lies on his stomach. He’s later placed on a stretcher.

Michael Brooks-Jimenez, a lawyer for Nair Rodriguez, said in a statement after the autopsy results were released Wednesday that they were confident the death would be ruled a homicide. He added that they are researching the medical terminology in the autopsy and will have additional statements later. He asks that the family be able to accept the news in peace.

Three Moore police officers were placed on administrative leave following the incident.

Jeremy Lewis, Moore police spokesman, said the three officers will remain on leave until the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation completes its investigation and presents the findings to the Cleveland County District Attorney.

The Cleveland County District Attorney’s office said they are aware the autopsy results have been released but are awaiting the OSBI investigation.

OSBI spokeswoman Jessica Brown said the autopsy results are just one aspect to the investigation and there is no timeline on when the investigation will be completed.