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For Immediate Release: For Further Information:
October 23, 2020
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Office of The Attorney General
- Gurbir S. Grewal, Attorney General
Office of Public Integrity and Accountability
- Thomas J. Eicher, Director
Media Inquiries-
Peter Aseltine
609-292-4791
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Citizen Inquiries-
609-984-5828
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AGs Office Releases Recordings From Body-Worn Cameras and Mobile Video Recorder in Connection With Death Following Arrest in Totowa on June 27
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Note: Members of the press can email the Communications Office to obtain a link to download video and audio recordings. 
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TRENTON – The Attorney General’s Office today released recordings from two police body-worn cameras and a mobile video recorder (MVR) in a police vehicle that captured video and audio related to the death of Sergio Rodriguez, 51, of Paterson, N.J., who died on June 27, 2020, after he was arrested by a New Jersey state trooper during a motor vehicle stop outside the State Police Totowa Substation.

The death remains under investigation by the Attorney General’s Office of Public Integrity and Accountability. However, the recordings are being released pursuant to Attorney General Directive 2019-4, the “Independent Prosecutor Directive,” which governs use-of-force investigations in New Jersey and requires that such records, if requested, be released to the public once the initial phase of the investigation is substantially complete. Investigators had been waiting for autopsy results to be finalized in this case.The autopsy report was received from the Medical Examiner earlier this month. 

Investigators met previously with relatives of Mr. Rodriguez to review the recordings.

Mr. Rodriguez was placed under arrest at approximately 11:30 a.m. on June 27, 2020, after the state trooper discovered suspected narcotics in his vehicle. He suffered a medical emergency shortly after being placed in the back of a police vehicle.

The trooper, as well as other responding troopers and paramedics, administered medical aid to Mr. Rodriguez and he was transported to St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center in Paterson, where he was pronounced dead at approximately 1:05 p.m.

The recordings being released today are from the body-worn camera of the state trooper who stopped Mr. Rodriguez, the MVR in the police vehicle in which Mr. Rodriguez was placed, and the body-worn camera of another state trooper who arrived at the scene.

The three recordings are posted online. Click here for recordings.

There are other recordings that are not being released because they do not capture the traffic stop, arrest, or police interaction with Mr. Rodriguez. They include recordings from body-worn cameras of two other troopers who arrived at the scene and four additional MVR recordings. Video footage of troopers and paramedics rendering aid to Mr. Rodriguez is being withheld for privacy reasons but was shared with the family.

The Attorney General’s Office previously identified Trooper Marc Concato as the state trooper who conducted the motor vehicle stop of Mr. Rodriguez.The other state troopers who arrived at the scene to assist were previously identified as Troopers Jeremy Chmiel, Michael Rivetti, Edgar Rodriguez, Gary Rokoszak, and Emmanuel Roman.

The investigation is being conducted pursuant to a state law enacted in January 2019 (P.L.2019, c.1), which requires that the Attorney General’s Office conduct investigations of a person’s death that occurs during an encounter with a law enforcement officer acting in the officer’s official capacity or while the decedent is in custody.

The investigation is ongoing and no further information is being released at this time. Under state law and the Independent Prosecutor Directive, when the entire investigation is complete, the case will be presented to a grand jury, typically consisting of 16 to 23 citizens, to make the ultimate decision regarding whether criminal charges will be filed. At present, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, regular grand juries have been authorized, but are not yet empaneled and hearing cases.

The investigation is being conducted in compliance with procedures and requirements established in the Independent Prosecutor Directive, which is available at this link:
https://www.nj.gov/oag/excellence/docs/2019-4_Independent_Prosecutor_Directive.pdf

The Independent Prosecutor Directive, issued by Attorney General Grewal in December 2019, outlines a 10-step process for conducting independent investigations of use-of-force and death-in-custody incidents in compliance with state law. The directive establishes clear procedures governing such investigations to ensure that they are done fully, fairly, and independently of any potential bias. A summary of that 10-step process is available at this link:
https://www.nj.gov/oag/excellence/docs/The-Independent-Prosecutor-Directive.pdf

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