OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) – Five Oklahoma City police officers were charged Wednesday with first-degree manslaughter in last November’s fatal shooting of a 15-year-old boy.
Stavian Rodriguez was shot by officers responding to reports of an attempted armed robbery at an Oklahoma City convenience store on Nov. 23. TV news video appears to show Rodriguez outside a gas station, dropping a gun. The boy raises his hands, then lowers them before being shot.
Oklahoma City District Attorney David Prater charged five of the responding officers with first-degree manslaughter. If convicted, they could face up to life in prison.
The officers charged are: Bethany Sears, Jared Barton, Corey Adams, John Skuta and Brad Pemberton. A sixth officer, Sarah Carli, used a “less-lethal” weapon and will not be charged, police said.
After being shot with the “less-lethal” round, while Rodriguez had one hand in his pocket and his other hand near his waistline, all five officers “unnecessarily fire lethal rounds at Stavian Rodriguez, striking him numerous times and inflicting mortal wounds,” Prater’s investigator, Willard Paige, wrote in an affidavit.
An autopsy determined Rodriguez suffered 13 gunshot wounds, Paige wrote.
It was not immediately clear whether any of the officers had attorneys who could speak on their behalf, but John George, president of the Oklahoma City Fraternal Order of Police, defended their actions.
“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,” he said. “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 have been on administrative leave since the shooting.
Police also released the officers’ body camera footage after the boy’s mother sued for it last month.