The Civil Rights Protection Project of The Latino Leadership Alliance of New Jersey (LLANJ) filed an Open Public Records Act (OPRA) request with the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office to investigate the death of Rodriguez, according to its website.
Rodriguez was a 32-year-old mentally
ill man who was shot to death by two officers after allegedly attacking them
with a knife last week. Some residents were skeptical that Rodriguez had a
knife, but video footage shot from the area in which the incident occurred
showed Rodriguez had a knife, according to nj.com. According to Acting Middlesex County Prosecutor Andrew C. Carey, police recovered a chef's knife with a five-inch blade from the scene.
Police had responded to the scene after his mother reported he was behaving violently. She didn’t give him his medication because she said it was harmful to him.
Witnesses told nj.com Rodriguez is either autistic or was schizophrenic and was taking anti-psychotic medication.
“LLANJ and its Civil Rights Protection Project demand a grand jury investigation of every police officer involved in this killing as well as a transparent investigation with full disclosure of the results to the general public,” LLANJ Presidet Martin Perez, Esq., said in a release posted on the organization’s website.
In addition to the Rodriguez incident, the group is requesting reports of incidents involving the Middlesex County Special Operations Response Team each year since 2009, as well as titles, ranks and salary information for members of the team.
It also requests annual summary reports since 2009, stating its prior research has shown police officers aren’t properly trained or supervised when it comes to the use of excessive force.
It also states a small number of police officers are involved in a greater number of excessive force incidents than the majority of their peers.
The group points out that New Jersey is the last in the state to allow the use of stun guns or “tasers.”
According to nj.com, each municipality in Middlesex County has just one stun gun.
According to the group, it has partnered with the Bergen County Police Department and the Office of the Attorney General, among other agencies, in addressing deadly encounters and making the environment safer for police officers and the public at large.