Update: City Councilor, after battles with TPD, said she believes her husband is being targeted by department

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UPDATE: Tulsa District 1 City Councilor Vanessa Hall-Harper told The Frontier late Friday that while she had “limited knowledge and information” about the case surrounding Tulsa District Court Judge Sharon Holmes’ injury, she believed Tulsa police may be targeting her husband, Sgt. Marcus Harper, as retaliation for outspoken nature against some police department practices, as well as for a letter her husband wrote last month supporting Mayor G.T. Bynum’s plan to create an independent office that would oversee police investigations.

The letter was written by Harper on behalf of the Black Officers Coalition.

Holmes was hospitalized earlier this week with a “deep” knife wound to her back left leg, as well as a “severely broken ankle” and possible injuries to her face. The case didn’t come to light until Thursday, when the Tulsa World obtained a police report on the incident. The police department later said that while the case had not originally been investigated as a possible domestic violence case, that was how it was currently being handled.

In the report, an officer wrote that Sgt. Harper instructed him to write it up as “an accidental injury,” although the same officer appeared to believe that a relative of Holmes may have been responsible for the judge’s injury.

Hall-Harper has butted heads with the police department since her election in 2016, being outspoken against what she sees as police corruption. She fought with the Fraternal Order of Police after comments she made on social media following the acquittal of former TPD officer Betty Shelby, and said last year she felt the city was retaliating against her when its lawyers drafted an opinion saying she could not take part in city council matters pertaining to the police department because her husband was an officer.

“It’s not only because of my position and what I am fighting for in this community in terms of justice and police reform, but also the fact (Harper) wrote an article on the Black Officers Coalition on the saying they support the Office of the Independent Monitor,” Hall-Harper told The Frontier. “That goes against what the FOP wants and now he’s an enemy of the police department, and now they’re targeting him.”

Harper could not be reached for comment Friday.

Sgt. Marcus Harper. Courtesy NewsOn6
A Tulsa Police Department sergeant whose wife is a city councilor who has butted heads with the department told an officer to report that the knife injury to Tulsa District Court Judge Sharon Holmes was accidental, a police report obtained by The Frontier states.

The sergeant, Marcus Harper, is married to Tulsa City Councilor Vanessa Hall-Harper. Hall-Harper has fought with police administration since she was first elected in 2016, over the Terence Crutcher shooting and the trial of Tulsa Police Officer Betty Shelby. She also later fought with the city when its lawyers issued an opinion stating she could not have input on police matters in her role as a council member because she is married to a police officer.

Holmes’ alleged stabbing and the existence of the police report was first reported by the Tulsa World on Thursday. The Frontier obtained the police report on Friday. Holmes is the first black female judge to be elected in Tulsa County. She was first elected in 2014 and easily won re-election in 2018.

Harper, according to the police report, told the reporting officer, Scott Scepanski, to “title this report an accidental injury.”

The officer’s report makes it clear he did not believe the stabbing, which happened at about 8 p.m. March 2, was accidental.

Scepanski’s report states officers arrived at Holmes’ Tulsa residence at about 8 p.m., where Scepanski saw Holmes in the kitchen, lying between the sink and kitchen island, surrounded by blood.

“There was a large amount of blood on the ground where she was laying, blood spatter on the bottom kitchen cabinets, and more blood pooled on the ground around the north side of the island counter top,” Scepanski wrote. “There was a large kitchen knife in the sink that appeared to have blood on the blade, and the water was running from the tap in the sink.”

Scepanski wrote in his report that Holmes’ adult daughter, who was named in the document but whose name is not being disclosed by The Frontier because she has not been charged with a crime, told officers she had been in a verbal argument with Holmes over her father — Holmes’ ex-husband — being hospitalized.

According to the report, Holmes’ daughter told officers she had left the kitchen following the argument with Holmes, then returned later to find Holmes in a pool of blood with the knife buried in the back of her left leg.

Holmes’ daughter, according to the police report, told officers that Holmes began to slip into unconsciousness, so she “slapped/struck” Holmes “several times in face to try and keep her awake while awaiting the arrival of EMSA.”

However, following that passage Scepanski noted that Holmes’ daughter “was very adamant” that officers know any injuries to Holmes’s face “were from her trying to keep her awake,” and was “very concerned” that officers know her fingerprints would be on the knife “since she pulled it from Ms. Holmes’ leg.”

Scepanski also wrote that Holmes’ daughter told officers that Holmes “fell on the knife,” despite having previously said she was in another room when Holmes was injured and did not hear Holmes fall. Holmes also suffered a “severely broken” ankle, the report stated.

“(Holmes’ daughter) was very emotional and her emotions appeared to be cycling,” Scepanski wrote. “She would go from screaming at officers asking if her mother was dead to being fairly calm and cooperative. She would then accuse officers of treating her as a suspect. She would bounce back and forth frequently and without warning.”

Holmes’s injuries are not considered life-threatening.

Tulsa County District Judge Sharon Holmes. Frontier file

Sgt. Shane Tuell, a TPD spokesman, said on Friday he could not comment on the case because it was potentially a domestic violence situation and because he said “there may be an internal investigation, too.”

Tuell did not say if Harper would be the focus of that possible internal investigation, and noted that no one had yet been placed on administrative leave as a result of the incident.

No criminal charges have been filed related to the March 2 incident, though the case remains open. Tuell said it was being investigated as a possible domestic violence situation.

Sgt. Harper’s wife, Hall-Harper, has been an outspoken critic of what she views as police wrongdoing during her two-plus years on the city council. She drew the ire of Tulsa’s Fraternal Order of Police in 2017 following the Betty Shelby trial, when she called Shelby and officers “who supported her” “Crooked Ass Cops.” Jerad Lindsey, FOP’s chairman, said in response that the FOP would consider targeting Hall-Harper in her re-election bid. Hall-Harper was re-elected in 2018 in Tulsa’s District 1, though an FOP-sponsored councilor was elected in the city’s 5th District.

Last year Hall-Harper was told she could not have input on police matters that came before the city council because she had a “conflict of interest” due to her marriage to Sgt. Harper, the Tulsa World reported.

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Dylan Goforth

Editor in Chief/Staff Writer

Dylan is a news junkie and QuikTrip addict. He spends too much time on Twitter, but has launched what will be a failed attempt to cut back in 2018. Contact: dylan@readfrontier.com or 918-931-9405.
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