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Lawsuit claims police tased man 15 times while naked, in need of medical attention

Fernando Octavio Rodriguez, 24, died a few days following his 2019 encounter with police.

HENRY COUNTY, Ga. — Editor's note: Some viewers may video the video above difficult to watch. 

The family of a man who died days after being tased by officers is filing a federal lawsuit against the Henry County Police Department and the City of Hampton Police.

Fernando Octavio Rodriguez, 24, was tased 15 times as officers appeared to make jokes while trying to get him medical attention. Rodriguez, who was naked, was walking down Oak Street when he encountered police in Sept of 2019. The lawsuit alleges the police and officials violated Rodriguez's rights and wrongfully caused his death.

Page Pate, the family attorney, released an edited 30-minute bodycam video Tuesday of the 2019 incident. Rodriguez had been to a music festival, Imagine Fest, when someone called police to report that he was walking around naked.

The video begins with officers yelling and one pointing a taser, telling Rodriguez to get on the ground. Rodriguez turned around and said something to the officer (in the video released to 11Alive, the audio at this moment is cut out) and continues to walk away.

RELATED: Naked man dies after being tasered in Henry County

At one point in the video, an officer sighs before again asking Rodriguez to get on the ground. Rodriguez can be heard saying “you wish.”

Eventually, Rodriguez is tased, screams and falls to the ground.

Officer: Put your hands behind your back!

A second officer can be heard saying "you're gonna get it again." The police tased Rodriguez again. They repeatedly tell him roll over on his stomach.

Second officer: Roll on your stomach so we can get you on the ambulance, OK? Roll over on your stomach.

First officer: I'm about to hit you again. You want it again?

Second officer: Roll over. Get on your stomach

First officer: Get on...

Then Rodriguez screams again as the sound of the taser goes off.

As the video goes on, the police struggle to put Rodriguez’s arms behind his back. The police issued threats and said, "dude, if you bite me, I’m going to kick your teeth out" and "I’ll break his arm, he ain’t getting up.”

And later on, two officers laughed at the situation.

“Can you believe I’ve done this this long and this is my first naked man," one asked. An officer laughed and responded, “Welcome to Imagine Fest.”

The police continued to kneel on his back and arms, ordering him to keep his head down. Rodriquez can be heard crying.

Eventually, someone at the scene can be heard asking, "are you still there brother?" and someone else replied "he's holding his breath."

Officer: Don’t relax on him too much.

Another officer at the scene: Actually he's quit breathing.

One replied with the statement "are you serious?" While they stand around and try to get Rodriguez to respond, an officer can be heard saying, "wake your butt up.”

Moments later, an officer makes another statement.

Officer: I just didn’t want to have to beat the boy to death. Remember what happened with the last one.

The paramedics also responded to the scene and performed CPR when he was placed into the ambulance. Rodriguez was defibrillated twice and received two rounds of epinephrine, which helped him to regain a pulse.

He was taken to Piedmont Henry Hospital and was later transferred to Grady Hospital in Atlanta. Doctors said he was suffering from respiratory failure, renal failure, anoxic brain injury, along with other medical issues. He died a few days later.

According to the lawsuit, the bodycam video showed that that officers were aware Rodriguez had stopped breathing, but they continued to pin him to the ground for several minutes. The family attorney said the medical examiner ruled the death a homicide as a result of "asphyxia due physical restraint in prone position with compression of chest."

The officers are now under a criminal investigation by the Henry County District Attorney’s Office.

11Alive has reached out to both police departments for comment; however, we have not heard back yet. 

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