A bystander who witnessed the argument alerted an officer, so when the officers approached the family, all they knew was they were checking on a domestic incident, something they are obligated to investigate, Stillings said.
They approached Luis Rodriguez and asked for ID.
Nair Rodriguez describes her husband as a peacekeeper, and he was the one who was trying to calm her and prevent her from driving away angry. He tried to bypass the officers, and they reacted.
Stillings said Luis Rodriguez took a defensive stance and clenched his fists when officers tried to detain him. It took all five officers to take him down, and pepper spray was used at one point.
“It took two sets of handcuffs linked due to his large size,” Stillings said. An independent witness described the officers’ actions as “trying to get an out-of-control person under control.”
An ambulance was already at the theater, and Rodriguez was taken to Moore Medical Center. He was alive during the transport, a spokeswoman for Midwest Regional Emergency Medical Service said.
He died at the hospital. The medical examiner’s office has not released his cause of death.
When asked about his health, Nair Rodriguez said her husband suffered from high blood pressure and sleep apnea, and had recently been treated for an injured ankle.
Nair Rodriguez says she’s been willing to do interviews with the media because it’s the only way her husband’s death won’t be in vain.
“Right now, I feel more afraid to call police or have police around me than probably a criminal,” she said.
She said her husband was not armed with a knife or gun that night. He was an electrician, and the couple moved from Puerto Rico in 1992.
Luis Rodriguez was big in size but had a “teddy bear heart,” she said.
Editor's note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Luis and Nair Rodriguez immigrated from Puerto Rico.