The family of a Tulsa man accused of assaulting police officers said Thursday that Tulsa Police officers used excessive force on him as he tried to save an injured horse.
Jack Morris, 53, was arrested on Wednesday on two complaints of assault and battery on a police officer, one count of obstructing an officer, and one count of resisting arrest, according to jail records.
Shortly before noon Wednesday, Tulsa Police officers had stopped a vehicle in the area of East 49th Street and Harvard Avenue and one of the individuals inside fled, prompting a foot pursuit, according to police.
The individual who fled the scene was believed to be hiding in a horse barn near 49th Street and S. Gary Avenue, and officers set up a perimeter and waited for a K-9 unit to arrive at the scene, according to Morris’ booking sheet.
In a Facebook post on Thursday, Morris’s daughter Melissa Morris, said that her father had received a call from a neighbor who lived near their midtown horse barn, where the family keeps several horses.
The neighbor told Jack that police believed a suspect was in the barn and had surrounded it, and that police helicopters and dogs were present, Melissa wrote. The neighbor then told Jack that one of the horses had been badly spooked, was trying to break down a fence, and had slipped and flipped over, possibly with a broken leg, she wrote.
Worried that other horses would escape through the hole in the fence, and concerned about the injured horse, Jack left work and headed to the barn, Melissa wrote.
According to police, Jack drove up to a gate on the north side of the perimeter and began to try and unlock the gate.
“It was obvious that he was upset about his horses but despite numerous commands to stop given by at least 3 officers the suspect continued to try to access the property/barn yelling ‘fuck you! They’re my horses!,’” police stated in their report.
Melissa’s account of what happened states that an officer came up behind Jack and told him he could not access the property, but that Jack was trying to explain that he just needed to catch the horse and he would be out of the officers’ way.
“As anyone would be with their pride and joy there was no way he was going to let anything bad happen and he bent over and proceeded to unlock the gate again,” Melissa wrote. “At that point the officer grabbed him and my dad pulled away turned back to the gate then the officer came from behind and maced him in the face and neck followed by tackling him to the ground after he stated multiple times he was done and would leave it alone and didn’t want to be arrested today.”
Three officers piled onto Jack, Melissa wrote, held his head back and began to beat him.
The police report gives a different account. The report states that at one point, Jack calmed somewhat but then turned back and began unlocking the gate, ignoring commands by the officer to come back to his position of cover, police wrote.
According to the officer, when Jack was threatened with arrest he “balled his fists, squared his shoulders, and rapidly walked up to me saying (yelling) “take me to jail motherfucker!”
The officer said he shoved Jack back and deployed pepper spray before the officer took him to the ground, at which point, the officer wrote, Jack continued to refused commands to stop resisting, even with two officers on him.
“After strikes to the head and significant effort to wrestle his arms back, we were able to cuff this suspect,” the officer wrote.
According to police, during the struggle one officer was struck near the left eye by Jack’s head or shoulder.
Jack Morris was taken to an emergency room, where he was treated, before being taken to the Tulsa County Jail. He was released later on Wednesday on an $11,000 bond.
Melissa wrote that his injuries included a broken arm, torn muscles in his other arm, broken cheek bones, nine stitches, and other bruises and injuries.
“This was a complete use of EXCESSIVE FORCE and a disgrace to the TPD. I happen to know and adore many of the TPD officers and unfortunately for them it only takes these horrible officers to give them all a bad name. I am so thankful that injuries can heal but what this had done to myself and my family is going to last a lifetime.”
Sgt. Shane Tuell of the Tulsa Police Department said Thursday evening he had not spoken with the officers involved, but that it’s likely an investigation into what happened will be opened.
Tuell said he was not immediately aware of whether dash cam or body cam video of the incident is available.
“I would be surprised if there is body cam because that program is not up and operational yet, we’re just now in the phase of handing out the equipment, so I can’t honestly say whether they did have body cameras on,” Tuell said. “I’m unaware of them having any dash cams that would have captured it.”
Jack Morris is a professional hunting guide and a contributing writer to the Tulsa World’s Outdoors section.
Melissa Morris said Thursday that her family was consulting an attorney on the matter.
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