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Five Oklahoma City officers charged with manslaughter in shooting of 15-year-old boy

Stavian Rodriguez died after being shot on Nov. 23 after officers were called to a robbery at an Okie Gas Express, Oklahoma City police said in November.
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Five Oklahoma City police officers were charged with first-degree manslaughter in connection to the death of a 15-year-old boy who was a suspect in an armed robbery last year.

Stavian Rodriguez died on Nov. 23 after officers were called to a robbery at an Okie Gas Express, Oklahoma City police said at the time. A clerk managed to flee the store and leave Rodriguez locked inside as officers arrived to surround the scene, according to police.

Rodriguez, who police say was armed, exited the store through a window where officers were waiting outside. According to the police account, Rodriguez did not comply with officer commands and officers shot at him. The teenager died at a nearby medical center.

Rodriguez's family does not dispute he was armed, but they say he complied with officer commands to drop the gun and was not armed when he was fatally shot.

Six officers were placed on administrative leave, the department said in November.

The Oklahoma City district attorney filed manslaughter charges against the five officers who fired their guns at Rodriguez, Oklahoma City police said in a statement Wednesday. The sixth officer, who fired a less lethal weapon, is not facing a criminal charge.

Rodriguez died after suffering 13 gunshot wounds, according to a probable cause affidavit from the Oklahoma County district attorney. The affidavit alleges the officers unnecessarily shot Rodriguez after officers were "simultaneously giving him varying commands."

"Stavian Rodriguez had no weapons other than the firearm, which he dropped prior to being shot," the affidavit said. "A cellphone was recovered from the left rear pocket he had his hand in at the time he was shot."

Surveillance video provided by the district attorney's office shows Rodriguez exiting through the window and placing what appears to be a gun on the ground. He then appears to reach for his pants before officers open fire.

Rodriguez’s mother, Cameo Holland, filed a lawsuit against the city last month demanding access to the recordings after her open records request went unanswered.

Holland’s filing alleges that bystander video, which NBC News has not viewed, disputed police statements that her son did not comply with officers. The filing said eyewitnesses observed Rodriguez complying with demands and being shot unarmed.

Rand Eddy, an attorney for Holland, called the pending charges a step toward justice and referenced department shooting statistics from the website

“The Oklahoma City Police Department has been perpetuating the murder of innocent and unarmed people for decades,” Eddy said. “It has the second-highest per capita rate of killings in the nation. Of the many forms of justice Stavian and his family deserve, we hope to see an end to this senseless violence and tragedy in our community.”

The police released body camera video, seen by NBC News, from the five different officers who fired their weapons. It is unclear what happened prior to the recording of the video and none of the angles offer a clear visual of Rodriguez before shots are fired.

The video shows the store clerk speaking with officers, letting them know Rodriguez was locked inside and had a gun.

Officers wait outside by gas pumps with their guns drawn and ask Rodriguez to exit with his hands up. One officer notes that Rodriguez appears to be “messing with something.”

“He might be calling his mom,” one officer said. “Like, oops.” “I messed up,” another officer laughed.

Someone asks Rodriguez over a loudspeaker to put his weapon down and move facedown on the ground. Police can be heard discussing whether they can get inside the store, but they learn the keys are locked inside. They also discuss calling the store’s phone in an effort to speak to Rodriguez.

Several minutes pass before Rodriguez begins to exit from a store window.

“Nobody has to get hurt, just show us your hands,” police say over the loudspeaker. Later the voice repeats, “Facedown, on the ground.”

Shots can be heard on the footage, but the body cameras are obstructed by cars or the officers' forearms. One officer is moving as the shots are being fired, and Rodriguez is only seen briefly falling to the ground.

John George, president of the Oklahoma City Fraternal Order of Police, defended the officers for making a life-or-death decision "in a split second."

"When an armed robbery suspect did not obey police commands, five officers perceived the same threat and simultaneously fired their weapons," George said. "A loss of life is always a tragedy and we know these officers did not take firing their weapons lightly. The OKC FOP stands by these officers and maintains they acted within the law."