The Sapulpa police chief wrote an angry response to Tulsa County Sheriff Stanley Glanz this week, calling an error-riddled condolence letter from the sheriff “a disrespectful and misstated document.”
Glanz wrote a letter last week to Sapulpa Police Chief Rick Rumsey expressing condolences on the department’s loss of one of its officers. However, Glanz’s letter not only contained an incorrect name and rank for the officer, it substituted the name of the officer’s alleged killer.
The letter also offered to help the department during a difficult time. But when Sapulpa police asked for help investigating an unrelated homicide during the officer’s burial, a major with the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office reportedly responded: “Why would we do that?”
“Words cannot express the disappointment I feel toward you and your department,” states the letter from Rumsey to Glanz, obtained by The Frontier. “I have never witnessed such a break in our law enforcement family.”
John Bowman, chief deputy for the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office, told The Frontier Wednesday that the incident was “a misunderstanding.”
“We have certainly taken steps to make sure it doesn’t reoccur. We regret the misunderstanding and the harsh feelings,” Bowman said.
Sapulpa Police Lt. Trey Pritchard was shot to death Aug. 15 along with his cousin, Jerry Grafton, in Midwest City. The two had gone to a motel there to retrieve a truck that Grafton’s son, Jonathan, had taken without permission.
Both Pritchard and Jerry Grafton were 46 years old and lived in Sapulpa.
Jonathan Grafton, 22, and his girlfriend were later arrested in the deaths of the two men and are being held on first-degree murder complaints in the deaths. Court records in Oklahoma County do not list a charge filed yet against either Grafton or his girlfriend, Daphne Mason.
In a letter two days before Pritchard’s funeral, Glanz sent a letter to Rumsey stating: “The Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office and its employees with (sic) to extend our sincere sympathy to you, your officers, and the family of Officer Jonathan Grafton for your tragic loss.”
The letter continues by stating: “No matter how much training officers receive, there is no guarantee of their safety as they go forth to protect and serve our communities.”
The issue of officer training has been repeatedly raised in connection with Glanz’s reserve deputy program following the April 2 fatal shooting of Eric Harris by Reserve Deputy Robert Bates.
The letter closes by stating: “Our thoughts and prayers are with you, your officers and Deputy Grafton’s family. If there is anything my office can do, please do not hesitate to contact us.”
In a reply to Glanz dated Tuesday and obtained by The Frontier, Rumsey writes: “It is with a sad heart from a disappointed Police Department that I must return your letter of sympathy.”
“In my thirty-two years as a law enforcement officer, I have never read such a disrespectful and misstated document. The Sapulpa Police Officer who tragically lost his life was Trey Pritchard. If you will read the returned letter, you will see that you have listed the name of Jonathan Grafton.”
Rumsey’s letter goes on to state he was “equally insulted” by Glanz’s offer to help. He notes that “hundreds of officers” were present at Pritchard’s burial ceremony in Kellyville, “however this did not include any TCSO Honor Guard.”
“During the burial ceremony, I was informed of a homicide in Town West. I asked my dispatch to have a Tulsa County Supervisor to please contact me,” he wrote to Glanz.
Rumsey states he received a call from a TCSO major and he asked that officer (reportedly Maj. Rob Lillard) for help investigating the homicide.
“Your major asked, ‘Why would we do that?’ I explained that my entire department is at the funeral of a slain officer. His exact reply was, ‘What’s that have to do with it?’”
Rumsey’s letter states that he had to dispatch officers who were at Pritchard’s funeral to investigate the homicide, who arrived to find TCSO officers already on the scene.
“I had officers working the crime scene in their Honor Guard uniforms. In the future, any assistance from my department for TCSO outside of normal patrol functions must be approved by my office,” the letter concludes.
Bowman said the letter was typed by Glanz’s secretary, who mistakenly used Grafton’s name instead of Pritchard’s.
“She is devastated. She’s called the Sapulpa Police Department yesterday. She has apologized for it. We deeply regret that mistake.”
Bowman said the Sheriff’s Office had already dispatched two deputies to help control the scene of the homicide when Sapulpa police arrived.
“We certainly helped them with the folks we had there. We had two guys there for some length of time.”