A pursuit that ended in a downtown Tulsa crash earlier this week will be examined by a sheriff’s office review board, but not before an Oklahoma Highway Patrol investigation is completed.
Joseph Daniel Dearmond, 21, was arrested Wednesday after he twice led Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office deputies on a high-speed pursuit. He was arrested after speeding back into a crowded downtown and crashing the stolen vehicle he was driving into a woman’s sports utility vehicle near 300 S. Boulder Ave., TCSO officials said. The woman escaped without major injury.
Sheriff’s office officials have not commented on whether the pursuit — which reportedly reached speeds of up to 70 miles per hour through downtown near the end of the work day — violated department policy.
The agency’s pursuit policy says deputies “may” pursue someone believed to have committed a felony or serious misdemeanor, but that pursuing “an eluder who is endangering the public will not be continued unless the offense is a violent felony.”
Deputies, the policy states, must terminate a pursuit if “the danger of pursuit outweighs the benefit of immediate apprehension.”
Casey Roebuck, a TCSO spokeswoman, said only that the vehicle Dearmond was driving had been “stolen during a carjacking.”
“That’s a felony,” she wrote in an email.
Roebuck said the review board, which meets every other month, will decide if any policies were violated. This pursuit won’t be scheduled for review until after an OHP investigation is complete, she said.
Dearmond allegedly stole the vehicle at gunpoint in Stroud, though the most serious complaints he was booked into jail for were eluding a peace officer and possession of a stolen vehicle. Dearmond previously pleaded guilty in Muskogee County to assault with a dangerous weapon for stealing a pickup from a man and then striking him with the vehicle in 2015.
The pursuit, which began near the BOK Center as a crowd lined up to attend a concert, reached speeds of 70 miles per hour and reached the Pearl District east of downtown before deputies lost Dearmond, according to an affidavit. When Dearmond first began to flee, he ran a red light near the BOK Center, forcing people walking to the arena to run “back to the sidewalks to keep from being hit by the driver,” according to an affidavit written by one of the deputies involved in the pursuit.
That deputy, Adam Bivens, first noticed Dearmond driving without a seatbelt near 2300 Charles Page Boulevard, just west of the BOK Center, at 5:44 p.m., the affidavit states. A dispatcher advised Bivens that the vehicle was stolen, so he followed Dearmond “to allow my backing units to arrive.”
Dearmond, apparently noticing the deputy tailing him, began to speed away near 300 W. Fourth St., Bivens wrote in the affidavit.
“The driver (Dearmond) continued to drive east on Fourth Street failing to stop at all red lights traveling at speeds upwards of 70 mph,” Bivens wrote. “The driver was weaving in and out of heavy traffic and cutting off other vehicles.”
Bivens wrote he eventually lost track of the stolen vehicle after it was taken onto railroad tracks near 1200 E. 4th St., a few blocks east of Highway 75.
The pursuit was briefly terminated by “Captain Fickett,” Bivens wrote, who “advised units to keep an eye out in the area for the SUV in order to pick up the pursuit.”
Another deputy spotted Dearmond’s vehicle three minutes later “around 1300 S Utica,” about a mile-and-a-half southeast of where Bivens lost sight of the stolen SUV. The pursuit picked up again at that point, but ended when Dearmond crashed into a Toyota SUV more than a mile away near 300 S. Boulder Ave.
Dearmond was arrested after leaving the crashed vehicle and momentarily running away. The driver of the vehicle he crashed into suffered only “a small abrasion on her left wrist.”
That woman told NewsOn6 her vehicle flipped several times and at first thought she was unable to exit her vehicle.
Dearmond received more serious injuries — his mugshot shows his face covered in several large lacerations. Dearmond allegedly later told a nurse he had stolen the vehicle in Stroud at gunpoint and then sold the gun in Davenport, a small town just west of Stroud.
Roebuck provided The Frontier with TCSO’s internal pursuit policy, a detailed eight-page document that lists duties, responsibilities and tactics for pursuits. Other agencies have not been so forthcoming.
In 2016, following a high-speed chase by Oklahoma Highway Patrol troopers that ended in the death of an innocent bystander, the OHP withheld its pursuit policy for reporters.
The Frontier had requested the document to see if policy had been followed during the pursuit, which ended in the death of Etoyce Johnson, a 64-year-old Owasso woman. Johnson, who was on her way to church, died when her vehicle was struck by a vehicle driven by Blake Ferguson, an auto-theft suspect. Ferguson was fleeing from the OHP in a stolen pickup when he crashed into Johnson.
According to a sworn affidavit by a state trooper investigating the pursuit, three Oklahoma Highway Patrol cars chased Ferguson that day through numerous red lights, at speeds greater than 100 mph, until the pickup ran a stop sign and hit a car driven by Johnson.
Department Public Information Officer Capt. Paul Timmons issued a statement shortly after denying that troopers failed to follow policy.
“Our policy regarding pursuits incorporates well-established practices and techniques and is in conformance with Oklahoma and federal law. Our policy has never been found to be unconstitutional or contrary to law. The Troopers involved in this pursuit acted in conformance with OHP Policy,” the emailed statement reads.
DPS General Counsel Steve Krise said at the time that OHP would not release the specifics of its high-speed chase protocols.
“They are tactical in nature and would reveal the way we conduct our pursuits, which would potentially hinder our ability to use them if our tactics were disclosed publicly,” Krise said.