Critics note the grand jury wanted an ongoing investigation to continue. Why did OSBI stop at that point?
Following a lengthy investigation, the prosecutor assigned to review an inquiry into the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office and former sheriff Stanley Glanz announced Friday that no additional charges would be filed.
However the prosecutor’s statement about an OSBI investigation into Glanz raises questions about how thoroughly the agency investigated Glanz, once a member of its board.
Glanz was indicted last year by a grand jury and pleaded to the two misdemeanor charges against him earlier this year.
The announcement was made Friday via an email from Okmulgee County District Attorney Rob Barris’ office. Barris was assigned to review the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation’s report last year following the recusal of Tulsa County DA Steve Kunzweiler.
Barris also oversaw the grand jury that met in 2015. That grand jury eventually indicted Glanz on two misdemeanors: willful violation of the law and refusal to perform official duties.
Glanz was charged with directing his employees to not release documents pertaining to training for 74-year-old reserve deputy Robert Bates, who shot and killed Eric Harris, 44, during a botched gun sting April 2.
Glanz was also charged with taking a $600 county stipend since January 2014, while using a county vehicle. Glanz later resigned from office and eventually pleaded guilty to one crime and no contest to the other.
The OSBI report, Barris noted in the release, spanned 929 pages, and included 39 interviews. However, the release stated that the majority of the OSBI investigation had been provided to the grand jury as it met in 2015.
What’s unclear is why it took an extra year for that report to be turned over to Barris’ office. Barris said in the statement that the OSBI halted its investigation after the grand jury indicted Glanz more than 12 months ago.
The statement said: “The OSBI had, as a result of the actions taken by the Grand Jury, ceased any further investigation at the conclusion of the Grand Jury.”
However the grand jury’s report makes clear that the jurors were under the impression an investigation would continue.
“The grand jury is aware that there is an ongoing investigation regarding the TCSO,” it states. “The grand jury has been advised of the nature of that investigation and is supportive of its continuation.”
If the grand jury was told of an ongoing investigation, presumably OSBI’s, and supported its continuation after hearing mountains of evidence related to Glanz’s office, why would the OSBI then stop investigating?
Despite Barris’ claim that OSBI stopped its investigation after the indictment and used mostly material already given to the grand jury, the OSBI took nearly a year to issue its report. (Such OSBI reports are not routinely available to the public because they are exempt from the Open Records Act.)
In August, OSBI spokeswoman Jessica Brown told The Tulsa World that the investigation’s case agent was “putting the finishing touches” on the report.
“It doesn’t make sense why they just stopped the investigation,” said Marq Lewis, founder of We The People Oklahoma, a grassroots group of citizens.
Lewis led the effort that eventually empaneled the grand jury that recommended Glanz be removed from office.
“Why didn’t they just make it clear that they had stopped investigating after the grand jury was done? Why not just say that a year ago?”
Dan Smolen, an attorney for Harris’ estate, told The Frontier that Barris’ decision not to prosecute let Glanz and others who likely engaged in criminal conduct off the hook.
“The only punishment Stanley Glanz got was he got to retire early. … His punishment was embarrassment. He didn’t have to take a mugshot. He didn’t have to go get fingerprinted. He didn’t get booked into jail. He just had a little bit of public humiliation. I think it’s totally wrong.”
Smolen said the law gives grand juries wide latitude to investigate and he believes Barris steered the grand jury to focus on a narrow set of facts.
“Based on the authority the law provides, the district attorney unilaterally limited the scope of the investigation in the way that achieved the result of getting Glanz out of office but at the same time avoiding him losing his retirement or a felony indcitment.
“It also created a scenario where other individuals who were as culpable, if not more culpable than Stanley Glanz, escaped any kind of prosecution. That’s not the spirit of Oklahoma’s grand jury process.”
Prior to being charged and resigning from office, Glanz noted that he had served on the board that governed the OSBI and said it would be a conflict for the agency to investigate him. He was removed from that position in October 2015.
A spokeswoman for the OSBI previously told The Frontier she did not believe the agency had a conflict of interest in investigating Glanz.
The OSBI investigation was spurred by the shooting death of Harris, an ex-convict who TCSO undercover deputies were attempting to arrest in a sting operation.
Harris, realizing he’d been set up, sprinted away from pursuing deputies but was eventually tackled. While he was on the pavement, Bates — a reserve deputy and wealthy benefactor to the sheriff’s office — approached and shot Harris once under the right arm.
Surveillance video recorded by devices purchased for TCSO by Bates recording the reserve deputy immediately dropping his firearm and exclaiming “I shot him, I’m sorry.”
Harris was pronounced dead shortly after at a Tulsa hospital.
Bates, in a statement given days after the shooting claimed he had meant to use a Taser against Harris, but had mistakenly drawn his handgun. He was charged with second-degree manslaughter for the killing and was eventually convicted and sentenced to a four-year prison term, the maximum allowable punishment under Oklahoma law.
Documents released to The Frontier in the days after the shooting showed that Bates, who had donated thousands of dollars of equipment to TCSO, as well as several thousands of dollars to Glanz’s re-election campaigns, was allowed nearly free reign within TCSO, despite being merely a volunteer deputy.
An Internal Affairs report that was leaked to The Frontier and other media showed Bates, who was 73 years old at the time of the shooting, would berate full-time deputies who questioned his status and closeness to Glanz. Several deputies complained that when they would question Bates, or refuse to sign off on training they said the reserve deputy had not completed, they would be reassigned, often given less desirable shifts or duties.
But problems at the sheriff’s office ran far deeper than just Bates.
Former undersheriff Tim Albin, who resigned after his role in the Bates saga was revealed, was alleged in an internal affairs report to have told one of Bates’ supervisors that Bates’ actions were “a shit sandwich” the supervisor “would have to eat.”
Former Major Tom Huckeby, who also swiftly resigned, was alleged in the internal affairs investigation to have acted as a bridge between Bates and TCSO’s higher-ranking officers.
Sgt. Eric Kitch said in the report that he sent Bates a suspension letter for failing to meet firearm qualification because he did not attend required classes. Bates, according to the investigation, contacted Huckeby, who contacted then-Chief Deputy Albin.
Albin told Kitch the suspension was a type of harassment, the IA report states.
Huckeby’s name appears in the document numerous times. One former corporal called him “aggressive/forceful” and said he felt pressured by Huckeby to pass Bates through the reserve program regardless of his abilities.
The investigator himself wrote that he learned of “other acts of intimidation on employees committed by (Huckeby) while this investigation was being conducted.”
Then-Chief Deputy Michelle Robinette said she believed Huckeby had previously intimidated another supervisor so he wouldn’t write up a friend of Huckeby’s who worked at the jail.
Reserve Deputy Program Coordinator Sgt. Randy Chapman reported he repeatedly inquired into Bates’ lack of training and was eventually transferred to another area in the Sheriff’s Office.
Chapman said in the report that Huckeby “cussed him out” about his questioning of Bates’ training. He was told by another deputy that nothing could be done “because Bates has bought Huckeby watches and takes them fishing and stuff.”
An office in disarray
The Community Safety Institute, which had been tasked with reviewing TCSO following the Harris shooting, issued an exhaustive 238-page report in February.
The report said that there “has been … a perceptible decline for over a decade, during which time there developed a systematic and institutionalized practice of disregarding organizational policies and procedures.”
The report was completed at a cost of $130,000 to taxpayers. It was originally slated to cost $75,000, but its scope was expanded late last year at an additional cost of $30,000. The report noted that the $130,000 figure included $25,000 worth of training given to the sheriff’s office by CSI personnel.
After Glanz resigned from office, TCSO undersheriff Rick Weigel was named interim sheriff. Weigel had been promoted to undersheriff to replace Albin, who resigned after his role in the Bates saga had been revealed.
Weigel quickly resigned from office, however, which led to Robinette being promoted to the role of sheriff.
Gov. Mary Fallin eventually announced that the remainder of Glanz’s term (about nine months) would be filled by a special election, and 13 men filed to run. Former TPD Sgt. Vic Regalado won the special election, and was elected again in November to fill a full term, which begins in 2017.
Since Glanz’s ouster as sheriff, he’s remained mostly quiet. He told The Frontier last March that he was “doing great,” but that he felt that “the whole world was upside down” as he watched other candidates run for an office he’d held for nearly three decades.
“Now that this investigation is over, the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office can close this difficult chapter in our department’s history and continue to move forward with positive change.” – Sheriff Vic Regalado
“I believe the OSBI and Mr. Barris have thoroughly reviewed all the relevant facts, and so I don’t have any disagreement with their recommendation.” – County Commissioner John Smaligo
“I wouldn’t begin to second guess their conclusion without having reviewed all of the documents or the interviews, etc.” – County Commissioner Ron Peters
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