A former Tulsa County Sheriff’s corporal who testified before a grand jury Wednesday said he was upholding oaths he took in law enforcement and the military to tell the truth about evidence of wrongdoing.
Bill Adams testified for about half an hour Wednesday morning after earlier providing grand jurors with a trove of documents he had assembled. Adams said he could not discuss details of his testimony or the records he provided but said the evidence involved what he believes is corruption within the Sheriff’s Office.
“I took an oath when I joined the Navy and later when I was at the Sheriff’s Office and nobody has ever rescinded those oaths. When are you released from your oath to do the right thing?”
The grand jury is investigating Sheriff Stanley Glanz, including issues related to his reserve program and the sheriff’s longtime friend, insurance executive Robert Bates.
Bates, 74, was allowed to serve as an advanced reserve deputy on an undercover drug task force despite supervisors’ concerns he had not completed the required training.
On April 2, Bates shot and killed Eric Harris during a gun sting operation, saying his mixed up his Taser and his gun. Harris had been subdued on the ground by two officers and was not carrying a weapon.
Bates has pleaded not guilty to a charge of second-degree manslaughter in Harris’ death. The shooting led to allegations that Glanz’s reserve program was largely a way for him to reward wealthy supporters who wanted to “pay to play cop.”
Bates donated cars and expensive surveillance equipment to the drug task force and Sheriff’s Office.
Before the grand jury was impaneled, prosecutors invited the public to provide relevant information by mail. Adams said he twice submitted records by mail and brought a third set of documents to the courthouse with him.
Before working in law enforcement, Adams spent 24 years serving in the U.S. Navy.
Adams joined the Sheriff’s Office in 2005, working in courthouse operations, evening patrol and was later promoted to a corporal supervising jail booking. He said he resigned in September 2010 “due to command staff’s dislike of me.”
A 2009 report concluded that supervisors at the Sheriff’s Office ignored concerns that Bates was untrained, transferring employees who refused to sign off on falsified training records.
Adams called the 2009 memo “very accurate.” He said during the few times he had contact with Bates in the field, “instead of acting like a regular deputy, he acted like he was a member of the command staff. ”
“He would tell people to do things, and it’s like, ‘I don’t work for you.’ ”
During a press conference in April, Glanz and others within his office denied that any concerns were raised about Bates’ training. When the 2009 memo was leaked to reporters for The Frontier and CBS, Glanz’s office launched an investigation into who had leaked it.
Glanz later said he hadn’t read the memo, which was addressed to his former undersheriff, but was familiar with its content. No action was taken as a result of the investigation’s findings that supervisors showed favoritism to Bates.
“Even though Glanz says he glanced at it, there should have been action taken on it,” Adams told reporters Wednesday. “That’s just another thing why Sheriff Glanz, something needs to happen to him because if he read that report and didn’t do anything with it, he’s willfully negligent.”
Following Adams’ testimony, grand jurors heard from Cpl. Jeff Organ, a member of the drug task force on which Bates served.
The 15-member jury has been meeting since Aug. 4 and has heard testimony from at least a dozen witnesses. The proceedings are closed to the public and some apparent witnesses have refused to confirm their identities.
Also on Wednesday, the sheriff’s office confirmed that Bill McKelvey, who was demoted in July from his rank of captain, had left the sheriff’s office.
McKelvey became the fourth high-ranking TCSO member to leave the agency since the Bates scandal. Former undersheriff Tim Albin and Maj. Tom Huckeby were forced to resign by Glanz, and Shannon Clark, who acted as the agency’s public information officer, was fired in late May.