Court

STORY UPDATED 11.21.21

Former Hampton police officer and current Spalding County Commissioner Ryan Bowlden is one of five police officers indicted Friday in the 2019 death of a 24-year-old man.

Fernando Rodriguez died Sept. 20, 2019 of asphyxiation reportedly as a result of the officers holding him down on the ground while he was handcuffed and shackled and applying pressure to his body near the Atlanta Motor Speedway, Henry County District Attorney Darius Pattillo said Friday.

Also indicted were Henry County Police Officers Robert Butera and Quinton Phillips, and former Hampton Police Officers Mason Lewis and Marcus Stroud.

Each is charged with one count of malice murder, two counts of felony murder, and one count of aggravated assault.

In addition, the grand jury charged each officer with one count of violation of oath of office for violating their oaths as law enforcement officers by reportedly stretching Rodriguez out on the ground in a prone position while he was handcuffed and shackled, holding him down and applying pressure to his body.

The grand jury issued the indictment after 5 p.m. Friday following two days of testimony from witnesses.

The grand jury will issue warrants for the officers’ arrests next week, Pattillo added.

Bowlden and Lewis resigned from their positions Aug. 5, and Stroud resigned from his position in October 2019, Hampton City Manager Alex Cohilas said Sunday.

Rodriguez, who lived in the Atlanta area, was leaving the Imagine Music Festival at the Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton when officers encountered him.

In addition to reportedly holding his naked body down on the ground, the officers are said to have struck Rodriguez more than a dozen times with their Tasers.

He was taken to Grady Memorial Hospital, where he later died.

The death was investigated by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

Spalding County officials have no further information at this time since the indictment came out of Spalding County's jurisdiction, a Spalding County spokesman said Saturday.