Tulsa County First Assistant District Attorney Erik Grayless. Courtesy NewsOn6

A Tulsa County prosecutor will handle an Okfuskee County grand jury that is investigating the fatal shooting of an Okemah man at the hands of a county deputy there.

Erik Grayless, who became Tulsa County’s first assistant district attorney in January, was tabbed by the state Attorney General’s Office to lead the grand jury, according to AG’s office spokesman Alex Gerszewski.

Okfuskee County District Attorney Max Cook recused himself from overseeing the grand jury last month. Cook had declined to file criminal charges in the case earlier this year.

Former Okfuskee County Deputy Blake Frost shot and killed James Coale last November while investigating a stabbing. The pickup Coale was driving when he was shot just happened to match the description of the one reportedly driven by the stabbing suspect. A man named Joshua Williams was later arrested in that case.

According to the statement Frost gave OCSO investigators, Coale tried to hit the deputy with his vehicle. Frost opened fire, striking Coale in the arm and back of the head, according to an autopsy report.

Coale, who an autopsy report showed had a small amount of methamphetamine in his system, died from the headshot.

Although the autopsy showed Coale was shot from behind, Cook declined to file charges against the deputy, announcing about three months later that the shooting was “regretful,” but that Frost was not guilty of any “cognizable criminal action.”

Frost resigned from the Okfuskee County Sheriff’s Office not long after the shooting. Prior to working there, Frost worked for the Henryetta Police Department, the Okmulgee County Sheriff’s Office, and served as the Dewar police chief.

Records requests sent by The Frontier to all three agencies have yet to be fulfilled.

The grand jury is set to be empaneled following the efforts of Kelli Weimer, Coale’s girlfriend and the mother of his youngest daughter. Weimer, along with Coale’s mother, collected 502 signatures — two more than the minimum required to empanel the grand jury — over the course of 45 days.

“I feel proud of James’ mother, myself, and the few close friends/family that helped us accomplish this,” she said last month in a message to The Frontier. “It was quite a task! I’m also so thankful for everyone who helped, signed, and supported us along the way.”

Okfuskee County Court Clerk Sherry Foreman said she sent summonses to 100 jurors who are scheduled to appear at the courthouse on Tuesday. Ultimately, a judge will select 12 grand jurors and three alternates.

Grand juries are rare occurrences — Oklahoma court records show only two, including the Okfuskee County grand jury — being filed this year. And indictments are even rarer, though a 2015 Tulsa County grand jury did indict former Sheriff Stanley Glanz.

That grand jury was led by district attorneys from Okmulgee and Washington Counties after the recusal of Tulsa County District Attorney Stanley Glanz.

The indictments levied against Glanz, who served as sheriff for nearly 30 years, led to his resignation from office. He was ultimately convicted of two misdemeanor crimes.

Prior stories

Grand jury to be convened in case of Oklahoma deputy who fatally shot man in the back of the head

On deadline day, woman seeking grand jury investigation of boyfriend’s death hopes she has the signatures she needs

Family of Okemah man shot in the back of the head by a deputy seeking grand jury investigation