Sex With Minors, Drunkenness and Assault Alleged
Wirth Law Office does not routinely seek out cops gone wrong. We just find them.
From our perspective, incidental reports of cops charged with crimes tend to get lost in the noise of court dockets, jail visits and crime news. When in the course of representing a client we discover police misconduct, of course we take notice. Otherwise, we are as likely as not to view cops under arrest as just another person who needs a good attorney.
Recently though, as lawyers are wont to do, we were doing some research to see how much the right to resist illegal arrest serves as a deterrent to police misconduct. That followed an Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals case that said people have a right to resist illegal arrest, but not a right to resist illegal detention.
When it involves a right to resist, the distinction between detention and arrest was more or less lost on us, in so far as the line between arrest and detention can be vague. Case law about the difference between arrest and detention is complex. In the published cases where a court acknowledges a right to resist unlawful arrest in Oklahoma, the court usually says the defendants’ resistance in those cases was nonetheless unlawful.
We thought, counter intuitively, maybe it is prosecutors who argue for a right to resist illegal arrest. Maybe prosecutors cite a right to resist in those occasional cases where police are criminally charged for using excessive force. Limits on the right to resist arrest would almost certainly be mitigated by a the right to defend life and limb against felonious attacks.
That was why we ran a quick search for police accused of wrongdoing.
Now, the accused is always considered innocent until proven guilty. We believe everyone has a right to a zealous defense against criminal charges.
Nonetheless, when we searched for police arrested in Oklahoma, we found a long list of recent cases where police officers in Oklahoma were accused or suspected in criminal matters.
More Than A Dozen Oklahoma Police Officers Charged in 2015
With surprising frequency, we found allegations of sexual misconduct with minors involving a police officer or former police officer. We noticed a perhaps predictable incidence of alcohol related charges. And we found some excessive force allegations. Here’s what we found:
- A Kiowa police officer was charged in July, 2015 with abduction after he was found in Las Vegas with a missing 15 year old from California. Media reports say Kiowa Police Department officer Daniel Boone Morgan was charged in Pittsburg County with lewd or indecent proposals to a child under 16. He was previously charged with kidnapping and sex-related crimes in Nevada, according to news reports. Morgan was on administrative leave from the police department for undisclosed reasons at the time of the arrest.
- A Fairview Police Deparment officer, William “Nate” Meyer, was charged with five counts of possession of child pornography and violating the Crime Act. An Enid newspaper reports a warrant was served at Williams home Sept. 21, 2015. He was released on $50,000 bond. The newspaper said Fairview police launched the investigation into one of their own after a juvenile male alleged the police officer was engaged in sexually explicit text messaging with the teen’s girlfriend.
- A dead battery in an ankle bracelet reportedly landed former Oklahoma City Police Officer Daniel Holtzclaw back in jail in July 2015 for violating terms of his bail bond. Hotzclaw is facing 36 counts including rape, sexual battery and indecent exposure related to assaults on women during traffic stops.Holtzclaw reportedly told a judge about trouble keeping the ankle bracelet charged. The judge responded that other defendants did not seem to be having similar problems. It was the second time Holtclaw’s bond had been revoked after he was arrested in August, 2014. Holtzclaw could face life in prison if convicted.
- Former Muskogee County Deputy Joshua Davis was arrested in August, 2015 on a charges of soliciting sex with a minor and soliciting sex with a minor. The 38-year-old former cop previously worked for two other police agencies, but was employed as a security guard at the time of his arrest. When he allegedly arranged to meet what he believed was a 13 year old girl, he was armed and wearing a uniform and a bullet proof vest.
- Former Valley Brook police officer Courtney Schlinke was charged July 2015 for rape by instrumentation, sodomy and lewd or indecent acts with a child. The 21 year old had worked for seven months at Valley Brook and was in the process of gaining law enforcement certification when she resigned, around the time charges were filed. The charges arose from an alleged relationship with a 14 year old girl, whose family notified Oklahoma City police.
- Master Sgt. Greg Driskill of the Oklahoma City Police Department is on administrative leave after being charged in April 2015 with domestic assault and battery and feloniously pointing a firearm.
- Lawton Police arrested Sergeant Gabriel Hoffman on an alcohol related charge Aug. 9, 2015. Hoffman was reportedly on duty and meeting with his supervisors when they noticed his slurred speech and unstable posture. He failed a sobriety test. Hoffman was charged with being in actual physical control of a vehicle while intoxicated and possessing a firearm while intoxicated.
- Tulsa Police Officer Shea Jojane Duff, also known as Shea McClung, was arrested on a DUI charge in Owasso Sept. 29, 2015. Police stopped the pickup truck she was driving after she failed to complete a U-turn and backed up in traffic. She reportedly told officers she had two or three beers after leaving work.
- Two rookie police officers were arrested near Ada, Oklahoma in August, 2015 after they allegedly fired shots from a moving vehicle. Chauncy Marris and James Gordon reportedly denied firing weapons, but a woman riding in the same vehicle said otherwise. The two had been hired by the Konawa police department a week earlier.
- Checotah police officer Matthew LeMasters was charged with obtaining a controlled dangerous substance by fraud on Aug. 1, 2015. The 35 -year-old officer was arrested after a month long OSBI investigation prompted by Checotah police reports of missing drugs.
- Boswell police officer Allen Golden was arrested Sept. 25, 2015 after he allegedly pocketed $2 from the purse of a woman suspected of drunken driving. State troopers had asked Boswell police to hold the vehicle until they arrived. When troopers arrived, they reportedly say Golden pocketing the cash. He reportedly said he planned to give the money to a case officer.Golden had previously been charged with assault and battery in 2013 but the charge was later dropped. He was also investigated for filing false information about a police pursuit that same year. He worked as a Bokchito police officer at that time.
Our list would not be complete if we did not include 73-year-old Reserve Tulsa County Deputy Robert Bates, indicted on second-degree manslaughter charges in April, 2015 after he shot an unarmed suspect. The victim was the subject of a sheriff’s sting operation targeting illegal firearm sales. Bates said he accidentally grabbed his pistol thinking he had grabbed his Taser.
- Tulsa County Sheriff Stanley Glanz was indicted Sept. 30, 2015 on two misdemeanor counts for allegedly missappropriating a monthly travel allowance and burying a 2009 internal investigation report that called into question training and qualifications of his 2012 campaign chairman, reserve deputy Robert Bates, who was later charged with felony manslaughter in the shooting of an unarmed suspect.
Excessive Force by Police is Assault and Battery
One case that closely fit our search criteria for an instance where somebody might have lawfully resisted arrest involved Oklahoma City Police Sgt. Matthew Downing. It was not quite an exact match, because the suspect said he did not resist and was apparently detained but not booked into jail on any charges.
On Jan 26, 2014, Downing arrested a man who had yelled at him “Road rage sucks!” after seeing Downing yelling at a woman stopped at a green light. Downing followed the man into a convenience store and told him he was going to jail.
News reports indicate Downing tackled the man, dragged him from the door and threatened to break his arm. Downing alleged the man resisted by grabbing the door on the way out of the store, but the man said that would have been impossible because his hands were tied.
The man was detained in the back of a patrol car for an hour. Oklahoma County court records indicate Downing pleaded no contest to assault and battery in February, 2015 and was handed a 90-day suspended sentence. Downing’s sentence was set to run concurrently with probation on a February 2015 charge of obtaining money by false pretenses, to which Downing pleaded guilty, according to online court records.
However, that was not a resisting arrest case. It more closely fits the description of obstructing an officer the court struck down in City of Houston v. Hill 482 U.S. 451 (1987). In that landmark case, a man protested police conduct with the words “Pick on somebody my size.” The U.S. Supreme Court said the man’s commentary was protected as free speech under the First Amendment.
Arrested for Resisting Arrest
Then there is the September 2015 case of a Purcell man whose battered face has been on television news reports around Oklahoma. Witnesses told reporters they saw a much larger officer rush the slightly built man, who was later hauled to jail with a reportedly broken nose and charges of obstructing an officer, battering an officer and resisting arrest.
In a probable cause statement, officer Blake Steely says he approached a vehicle parked at Prucell Park Apartments because he had seen the vehicle “earlier in the evening driving around suspiciously in an area we had several complaints of people looking in cars.”
The man said he got out of his car to ask the officer what was the problem after the officer shined a light in his car.
Steely’s statement says the driver had his hand in his pocket. Steely got out of the patrol car and ordered the man to turn around and place his hands on his head. Instead, Steely says, the man continued to face the officer, asking questions.
When the man began walking backwards toward his own car, Steely grabbed him. A struggle ensued, with Steely alleging the man refused to be handcuffed.
Whatever the outcome of the charges in the Purcell incident, the matter epitomizes a typical case of law enforcement contact gone wrong. Resisting arrest charges piggyback on obstruction charges, arising solely from a response to law enforcement contact.
In Purcell, obstruction and resisting charges were based on nothing other than a person’s conduct during an investigative stop – where no particular crime was alleged. The matter quickly escalated from allegations of obstructing an officer – ostensibly by refusing to follow orders – to resisting the sudden obstruction arrest. The assault on an officer charge stemmed for some alleged conduct in response to the sudden, forceful arrest.
We would argue it is an unreasonable seizure for an officer to detain a person on private property with no individualized suspicion of any particular criminal act. Oklahoma courts, however, recently refused to recognize a right to resist unlawful detentions.
Take if from an Oklahoma defense attorney: it is almost always better to comply with police orders. Even in rare cases where you might have a legal right not to comply, unless resistance is necessary to protect life or limb, compliance is the safest course of action. It can also help you avoid legal costs.
Free Consultation: Tulsa Defense Attorney
In the event you are charged with obstruction or resisting an officer, however, there are often ways to defend yourself in court. If you have been charged with obstructing an officer, resisting arrest or assault on an officer, contact a Tulsa criminal defense attorney to learn about possible defenses against the charge.