Major Tom Huckeby once likened the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office to a “paramilitary” operation, imbued with strong discipline and order.
But in court records and internal reports, others painted a far different picture: one where supervisors in the Tulsa Jail labeled black employees “N” in personnel records, Huckeby and others allegedly had “rampant sex” with co-workers and black inmates were assaulted for sport.
Meanwhile, supervisors at all levels in the Sheriff’s Office said they feared Huckeby, then a captain who appeared to be favored by Sheriff Stanley Glanz.
Even Glanz’s future public information officer, Shannon Clark, told investigators he felt “intimidated” by then-Capt. Huckeby to the point that it interferes with his job — and that he is afraid of him “if I am on the bad side of him.”
Earlier this week, the Sheriff’s Office confirmed that Huckeby was resigning and it appeared that Clark had fallen out of favor. They may be the latest casualties of an ongoing controversy sparked by the shooting of an unarmed man by Reserve Deputy Robert Bates, Glanz’s fishing buddy and campaign chairman.
On Monday, the Sheriff’s Office said Clark had been placed on administrative leave. Glanz’s office said the leave would be “pending further review and evaluation of the job duties and work performance of Major Clark.”
Glanz’s replacement spokesman, Terry Simonson, said Tuesday that Huckeby — in charge of the Violent Crimes Task Force at the time of Eric Harris’ death during an undercover sting — planned to resign Aug. 1, following more than three months of vacation.
Simonson told a reporter Tuesday that Huckeby had been placed on paid administrative leave April 27. That differed from earlier statements by the sheriff, however, about the nature of Huckeby’s absence.
Simonson contacted The Frontier later Tuesday to say that he had a “mix up in language and words” related to Huckeby’s status. He told The Frontier that Huckeby, 49, called Glanz on Tuesday and said he wanted to use the rest of his vacation and then resign Aug. 1. Simonson said via text message: “Sheriff accepted that.”
Glanz declined an interview request Monday, brushing past reporters after a County Commission meeting. Simonson said Tuesday the sheriff would not give interviews to media outlets that portray Tulsa “in a bad light nationally.”
Clark could not be reached for comment for this story. Simonson said he had no contact information for Huckeby and declined to comment on his behalf.
An attorney for Harris’ family, Dan Smolen, issued a statement that Huckeby and former Undersheriff Tim Albin “were key components in the broken TCSO system.” Albin resigned April 27, shortly after release of an internal affairs report finding multiple policy violations by Albin and Huckeby.
“However, it was Sheriff Glanz who gave Huckeby and Albin such prominent leadership roles,” Smolen’s statement says. “Ultimately, it is Sheriff Glanz who must take responsibility for the corruption and incompetence that have taken center stage at TCSO. If the public’s trust in the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office is ever to be restored, Sheriff Glanz must resign.”
‘Acts of intimidation’ probed
Huckeby’s role in supervising his son, Michael Huckeby, on the Violent Crimes Task Force was highlighted in a report by The Frontier in April.
Sheriff’s Office policy states that a parent should not supervise a child, and Glanz recently told the Tulsa World that type of direct supervision “did not sit right with me.” It’s unclear why Glanz wasn’t aware that the 24-year-old newcomer was serving under his father on a key task force.
In a World story last year, Glanz noted that the Huckebys were among several father and son teams working for his office.
In the video of Harris’ shooting April 2, Michael Huckeby can be seen with his knee on Harris’ head as Harris repeatedly says he cannot breathe.
Bates, a friend and political supporter of the sheriff, was also serving on the task force despite numerous complaints by Sheriff’s Office employees about his lack of training.
During the botched undercover operation, an officer purchased an illegal gun from Harris, a felon, whoÂ ran as task force members moved in to arrest him. Though video shows Michael Huckeby and another deputy had Harris subdued on the ground, Bates said he decided to use his Taser, in case Harris had a weapon.
Instead, Bates pulled out his personal .357-magnum revolver — a gun he was not allowed by policy to carry on duty — and shot Harris.
An autopsy released Tuesday by the state Medical Examiner’s Office classified Harris’ death as a homicide caused by a gunshot, which pierced his lung and caused both lungs to collapse. Harris tested positive for methamphetamine.
Bates, who was allowed to wait four days to give his statement, said he shot Harris after he mixed up his Taser and his gun. He has been charged with second-degree manslaughter and is awaiting a preliminary hearing scheduled for July 2.
In a 2009 Internal Affairs investigation by the Sheriff’s Office, Huckeby is said to have acted as a bridge between Bates and TCSO’s higher-ranking officers.
Sgt. Eric Kitch said in the report that he sent Bates a suspension letter for failing to meet firearm qualification because he did not attend required classes. Bates, according to the investigation, contacted Huckeby, who contacted then-Chief Deputy Albin.
Albin told Kitch the suspension was â€œsome type of harassment, the IA report states.
Huckeby’s name appears in the document numerous times. One former corporal called him “aggressive/forceful” and said he felt pressured by Huckeby to pass Bates through the reserve program.
The investigator himself wrote that he learned of “other acts of intimidation on employees committed by (Huckeby) while this investigation was being conducted.”
Chief Deputy Michelle Robinette said she believed Huckeby had previously intimidated Clark so he wouldn’t write up a friend of Huckeby’s who worked at the jail.
Reserve Deputy Program Coordinator Sgt. Randy Chapman reported he repeatedly inquired into Bates’ lack of training and was eventually transferred to another area in the Sheriff’s Office.
Chapman said in the report that Huckeby “cussed him out” about his questioning of Bates’ training. He was told by another deputy that nothing could be done “because Bates has bought Huckeby watches and takes them fishing and stuff.”
Glanz has said he has taken numerous trips with Bates, whom he describes as a longtime friend, but that he gave Bates no favorable treatment. Bates also managed Glanz’s re-election campaign and donated vehicles and expensive surveillance gear to the Violent Crime Task Force.
The 2009 investigation concluded that Albin and Huckeby had violated numerous policies by giving “special treatment” to Bates and by “creating an atmosphere in which employees were intimidated to fail to adhere to policies in a manner which benefits Reserve Deputy Bates.” It is unclear what, if any, actions were taken as a result of the report.
Jail called ‘paramilitary organization’
The 2009 internal affairs report was not the first time Huckeby would be accused of wrongdoing at the Sheriff’s Office. In 2008, black employees at the jail complained he and other supervisors treated them unfairly compared to white employees and used racist language in their presence.
The complaints prompted an internal affairs investigation, which found that black employees were denied benefits given to white employees but found no policy violations.
After no actions were taken in response to complaints of racial discrimination in the jail, seven employees sued the county.
The discrimination lawsuits were filed in U.S. District Court by black employees against Glanz, the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office and the Board of County Commissioners in 2009 and 2010. Huckeby was not a named defendant, though many of the employees’ claims of discrimination stemmed from alleged abusive and racist behavior under his supervision.
The county settled all seven suits, spending more than $1.2 million to pay settlements and legal fees.
Several of the suits accused Albin of racist behavior, including telling one detention officer “she was intelligent and used good grammar and could be his go-between with the other African Americans.”
Albin is not a named defendant in the lawsuits and prosecutors strongly denied any discrimination occurred.
In a 2010 deposition for those lawsuits, Huckeby also rejected allegations of racial discrimination. Huckeby said he “did no business under a racial color and I didn’t make any decisions based on race whatsoever.”
After serving in the Marine Corps and Air National Guard, Huckeby joined the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office in 1992 as a deputy. He said he later completed numerous seminars, eventually being certified as an advanced instructor for the state Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training, or CLEET.
In the deposition, Huckeby said he was first assigned to the jail as a captain in 2005, after Glanz assumed responsibility from Corrections Corporation of America, the private company that had operated the jail.
Huckeby described his leadership style as “decisive, direct and disciplined.” He described the Sheriff’s Office as “a paramilitary type of organization,” adding: “We brought that structure and discipline to the jail.”
Within a year, Huckeby was assigned to serve as the jailâ€™s administrative captain, handlingÂ contract issues and hiring and training of employees. In 2008, Huckeby learnedÂ of an internal affairs investigation after a black sergeant at the jail complained about him, Albin and another jail supervisor, Capt. Derek Devoe.
“We were complained on for being intimidating, being rude, and she made an allegation of race at the same time,” Huckeby said during his deposition.
Robinette, then a captain, investigated the allegations, interviewing numerous Sheriff’s Office employees and compiling a report for Undersheriff Brian Edwards dated July 2, 2008.
According to the IA report, investigators interviewed more than 40 current and former employees of the Sheriff’s Office. Security surrounding the interviews was apparently lacking, as the report states that tape recordings of three of the interviews were missing.
During the 2009 IA investigation, a tape recorder also malfunctioned during Huckeby’s interview with Edwards.
Robinette is now a chief deputy and was assigned to supervise jail operations this week after Clark was placed on leave. Edwards has since left the department and works for the Grand River Dam Authority. He has declined to comment on events at the Sheriff’s Office.
The 2008 report quotes several employees of the Sheriff’s Office who said Huckeby had bullied and belittled some employees, particularly black employees.
Capt. Scott Vickers told investigators about an incident in which a “shakedown” of jail employees had been planned to search for contraband.
“Captain Vickers stated that on one day, before a big shakedown, Captain Huckeby said to him, ‘I know what happened is these people, these ingrates will not want to stay, cause they’re just, they don’t have the mentality.'”
During one shakedown, 12 jail employees were searched and four were found to have contraband (three cell phones and a lighter). A memo from H. A. Wilson to Albin and Robinette identified each employee searched by name, gender and race. The black employees were identified as “N” while white employees were identified as “W.”
Several detention officers told investigators about incidents in which they felt threatened by Huckeby. One detention officer told investigators while she was walking down the hallway, Captain Huckeby approached her and said, “You need to be in oranges. I’m going to put you in oranges, you’re going to be in here (jail) before it’s over with.”
The IA report also quoted a sergeant who said “the first time he met Captain Huckeby was when Captain Huckeby stood in the Sgt’s office doorway and said, ‘Who the fuck is this fat ass?'”
Clark, who later became the public face of the Sheriff’s Office in 2009, told investigators he feared Huckeby. On one occasion, Huckeby was angered by Clark’s “facial expression.”
Clark told investigators he “was pulled into a private location and told that he (Huckeby) would not tolerate that and when Sgt. Clark became submissive it angered Captain Huckeby.”
Huckeby states in his deposition he was transferred out of his role supervising the jail in 2008, about a week before the date of the IA report. He said he had been told previously by Albin he would have to work about three years in the jail before he could be transferred.
While he agreed with his transfer to a job supervising the uniform division, Huckeby said he “hated the timing of it.”
“They just started this investigation and next thing you know … I got transferred on June 26 and my impression of that is that while it was probably predestined, it looked bad. It made us look like they were transferring us for those reasons.”
Assaults, “rampant sex” in the jail
Aside from allegations he mistreated black employees, Huckeby also is alleged to have beaten black inmates and took part in â€œrampant sexâ€ within the jail among employees.
In an affidavit filed in federal court, former Detention Officer Shannon Moody alleged Huckeby engaged in sexual and racist behaviors on duty. Moody said she was transferred, disciplined and then fired in 2007 after she complained to internal affairs about Huckebyâ€™s behavior.
Moody was on the jail’s Special Operations Response Team, a unit that responded to prolems in the jail involving inmates. She said Huckeby and other white officers would go into black prisoner’s cells and “assault them for no reason.”
“The nurses in medical would never be called, even though the inmate would be swollen and it was obvious (they) had been beaten up,” her affidavit states.
The assaults would routinely occur in segregation units where cameras could not capture the acts, she said.
Moody, who is white, also alleged that Huckeby and other employees commonly referred to black inmates and deputies by the N-word, and said she often heard ranking officers making racist jokes.
Moody said she learned she was on a list of female deputies Huckeby believed would have sex with him, which he referred to as a “would-ya” list. She said she confronted him about the list, and he “became wide-eyed and flat out admitted it and walked away,” her deposition states.
Because she worked in the jail’s “master control” area, Moody had access to cameras inside and outside the jail.
“While working in master control, I could zoom in on Captain Huckeby out in the parking lot and I commonly observed him kissing and performing other sexual acts with various women in the parking lot,” her affidavit states.
“In fact, sex was also rampant within the jail among Captain Huckeby and his group of Caucasian followers that we deemed the nickname ‘Huckababies’ for this and other various reasons.”
Moody said Huckeby and other jail officers had sex with female employees under the jail pods in an area called the â€œpipe chaseâ€ or in a segregation area.
“When Huckeby was going down to segregation or the pipe chase it was always for no apparent reason and he was accompanied by a female officer. The sexual activity in the jail was rampant and Chief Albin knew, so did Huckeby, as he took part in it and the two of them encouraged other caucasian male officers to participate in this behavior,” Moody states.
“None of these men received discipline to my knowledge, and most are still currently employed with the jail.”
Huckeby’s lengthy deposition in 2010 ended with a discussion about his plans to work for a military contractor overseas during the summer and his tattoos.
Under questioning by attorney Dan Smolen, representing the plaintiffs, Huckeby said he had received an iron cross tattoo with a skull and flames at a motorcycle rally in Sturgis, N.D.
When asked about the tattoo’s history as a symbol for the Nazi party during World War II, Huckeby replied he later learned the iron cross “was used by several organizations or entities throughout history.”
“And did you acknowledge that one of those organizations was the Nazis?” Smolen asked.
Huckeby replied: “Yes, sir.”
Ziva Branstetter 918-520-0406
Dylan Goforth 918-931-9405