GBI investigating officer-involved taser death of naked man near Imagine Fest

Fernando Rodriguez, 24, of Forest Park died Sept. 23 after being Tased by Hampton and Henry County Police officers Sept. 21. The GBI says officers responded when Rodriguez was reported walking naked along Oak Street near Atlanta Motor Speedway during Imagine Fest. It’s not clear whether Rodriguez attended the festival. Rodriguez was a partner in a Lake City car sales business.

HAMPTON — The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is looking into the death of a Forest Park man who died Sept. 20 after Hampton and Henry County Police found him wandering naked near the Imagine Fest, then Tasered him. It is not clear whether the man had been at the festival.

According to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, who is investigating the case, Fernando Rodriguez, 24, was reportedly walking naked on Oak Street near Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton around 10:05 p.m.

Hampton Police Chief Derrick B. Austin told the Herald the incident took place “inside the city of Hampton and Hampton officers responded. Henry County Police Department officers responded as backup units.”

Officers from the Hampton Police Department and Henry County Police Department tried to make contact with Rodriguez, but “he became combative,” the GBI said in a press release.

“During the incident, Rodriguez was Tasered by officers of both departments,” the GBI said. “After Rodriguez was subdued, he exhibited signs of medical distress and emergency medical services were dispatched. Rodriguez was initially taken to Piedmont Henry Hospital before being transported to Grady Memorial Hospital where he later died.”

HCPD spokesman Capt. Joey Smith referred the Herald to the GBI, as did Austin. The GBI is still investigating and will turn over its findings to the Henry County District Attorney’s Office once complete.

The Herald requested any police bodycam video of the incident from the GBI. However, because the investigation remains open in Henry County, the video cannot be released until the investigation is finished, “which may also include prosecutorial actions and the appeals process.”

Rodriguez worked at Nolasco Auto Sales in Lake City and was from Riverside, Calif., according to his Facebook page. His business partner, Christian Nolasco, told the Herald he had been in El Salvador and rushed back when he heard of Rodriguez’ death. “He was my best friend,” Nolasco said.

A candlelight vigil was held Tuesday and a Go Fund Me has been set up by the family to cover funeral expenses. According to the site, “Fernando Octavio Rodriguez is a fighter and fought until his last breath and aching heart couldn’t take no more.”

Rodruguez’ funeral was set for Friday at H.M. Patterson and Son Spring Hill Chapel in Atlanta. A second service was scheduled for take place Saturday, Sept. 28 at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, 1135 Second St., Moultrie.

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