BY DYLAN GOFORTH
After more than a month of allegations of misconduct, Tulsa County District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler has requested the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation formally investigate the beleaguered Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office.
The OSBI has not yet opened an investigation, but noted Thursday morning that they received Kunzweiler’s request May 6. The OSBI can only be requested by a law enforcement or investigatory agency.
The request comes in the wake of the high-profile Eric Harris shooting, and revelations that some inside TCSO have had concerns for years about the training and gun qualifications for Robert Bates, the reserve deputy responsible for the shooting. Undersheriff Tim Albin and Maj. Tom Huckeby, who headed the Violent Crimes Task Force that Bates volunteered with when he shot Harris, have resigned following the shooting, and Sheriff Stanley Glanz has said he felt that he put too much trust in those under his authority.
Bates shot Harris April 2 during a botched undercover gun sting. Video, recorded via sunglass cameras Bates bought for the task force, captured Bates running toward a tackled Harris, shouting “Taser! Taser!” then shooting Harris once underneath the right arm.
Harris was transported to a Tulsa hospital where he died about an hour later.
Glanz has not escaped public scrutiny himself. Two grassroots organizations, We the People Oklahoma and The United League for Social Action (TULSA), have called for Glanz’s resignation. To date, the sheriff has said that he will not resign, but he does not plan to seek re-election in 2016.
Glanz, a member of the OSBI commission – has also previously said that because of his role at the OSBI, he would not call for the agency to investigate the sheriff’s office, as he could not promise the investigation would be impartial.
“I could ask the OSBI to come in, but again, I’m on the commission that appoints, that hires and fires the director (of the OSBI,)” Glanz said at the time. “He’s not an outside guy, he’s someone that I have direct control and influence over, so why would I ask him to come in?”
But on Thursday, hours after the OSBI announcement, the sheriff said he had “long awaited” OSBI intervention, and said he believed any investigation would not turn anything up.
Glanz said in the statement he had, “complete confidence and trust in the OSBI and in my employees and am convinced there will be no criminal wrong doing uncovered.”
Glanz said he had previously asked the FBI to investigate the “entire (Bates) shooting incident,” and said the FBI found nothing. “I am confident the OSBI will reach the same conclusion.”
Jessica Brown, spokeswoman for the OSBI, said the agency was “conferring with other investigative and prosecutorial entities with jurisdiction in this case to determine the best and most efficient course of action.”
“What we want to make sure is that we’re not duplicating efforts,” she said. “There are local, state and federal investigatory agencies that could be involved. We’re not the only show in town.”
Brown said no official timeline exists for a decision, but that she expected an update might be available “in a few weeks.”
Though Glanz has remained steadfast that he would see his current term as sheriff, his seventh, through to the end, some of those underneath his authority have not been as fortunate.
Undersheriff Tim Albin, whose name was mentioned multiple times in a 2009 TCSO Internal Affairs document alleging he helped Bates run rampant through the reserve deputy program, announced in April that he was resigning.
Maj. Tom Huckeby, also mentioned multiple times in connection to Bates in the internal affairs report, announced on Tuesday that he was resigning as well. Huckeby ran the Violent Crimes Task Force that Bates volunteered for when he shot Harris last month.
Huckeby has faced a number of allegations in his time with the sheriff’s office, and court records document years of alleged sexual misconduct and abusive behavior both to jail inmates and sheriff’s office staff.
Sheriff’s office officials believed Huckeby had intimidated other supervisors to protect his friend from a writeup, and documents alleged that Huckeby belittled other employees and assaulted African-American inmates.
A former jail staffer, Shannon Moody, said in a deposition that Huckeby routinely referred to African-American inmates by the N-word, and said that the culture of on-duty sex surrounding Huckeby was so strong that deputies termed those who slept with him as “Huckebabies.”
Moody said she often saw Huckeby engaged in sexual acts with female deputies both inside and outside the jail via security cameras, and said that she was also told she was on a “would ya” list Huckeby kept of all female deputies he had slept with or believed he could sleep with.
Moody said she confronted Huckeby about her inclusion on the list, and Huckeby admitted it was true.
Maj. Shannon Clark, who coordinated jail operations for the sheriff’s office and handled the agency’s public information office, was placed on administrative leave Monday. TCSO has not stated why Clark was placed on leave, but Wednesday a cease and desist letter sent by City Attorney David O’Meilia to Kunzweiler and Baker accused Clark of attempting the “character assassination” of Tulsa Police Department chief Chuck Jordan.
Clark, according to O’Meilia’s letter, had called local news outlets to request they investigate Jordan’s connection to Bates – Jordan headed the reserve deputy program for a time when Bates had first joined TCSO. O’Meilia said the calls from Clark to the news outlets were an “attempt to deflect attention and current scrutiny from TCSO.”
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