By ZIVA BRANSTETTER
A citizen group seeking a grand jury investigation of Tulsa County Sheriff Stanley Glanz says it has gathered 2,500 signatures, half of what it needs.
Marq Lewis, founder of We The People Oklahoma, said the group is pleased with its progress so far.
“We are halfway there with our signatures,” Lewis told a small, enthusiastic crowd gathered outside the courthouse Thursday evening for a demonstration. “We have collected over 2,500 signatures and we are at day 13.”
The group has about 30 days remaining to collect at least 5,000 signatures of registered voters to impanel the grand jury. All signatures on the petition must be verified before being counted as official.
We The People Oklahoma, the grassroots organization behind rallies and protests in the wake of the Eric Harris shooting in April, filed the petition May 6 seeking a grand jury.
Presiding Judge Rebecca Nightingale said in a written order May 8 approving the petition that if true, the allegations contained in the group’s petition “would warrant a bill of indictment.”
The petition lists 20 areas of inquiry, most surrounding reserve deputy Robert Bates, who shot Harris April 2 during a botched gun sting. The inquiry also focuses on training that reserve deputies receive and allegations that Bates and others may have received partiality from Glanz.
Glanz said Bates has been his close friend for more than two decades and has donated money and equipment to the sheriff’s office, as well as taking the sheriff on trips. Bates also served as Glanz’s campaign chairman in 2012 and has donated to his campaign in the past.
A 2009 internal affairs investigation found numerous policy violations by top officials in Glanz’s office in regard to Bates’ training. Glanz has said he was unaware of the details of that investigation.
Undersheriff Tim Albin resigned and Maj. Tom Huckaby retired in the wake of the controversy. Maj. Shannon Clark remains on leave pending an internal affairs investigation.
Lewis said those interested in signing the petition can check the group’s Facebook page or visit the office of attorney Laurie Phillips, 1408 S. Denver Ave.
“Our petitions will continue to go forth,” he said. “We will get our 5,000 and then some. We have hope, we have endurance, we have strength.”
Ziva Branstetter 918-520-0406