Former Sheriff’s Maj. Shannon Clark emerged from the 6th floor grand jury meeting room Friday with a smile on his face after more than three hours of testimony.
Clark, fired without explanation by Sheriff Stanley Glanz in May, said his testimony before the grand jury investigating his former boss “went very well.”
“I had the liberty to go in and tell my side of the story. I ethically and truthfully answered the questions to the best of my ability and I challenge the sheriff to do the same.”
The grand jury has heard testimony from at least 10 witnesses during five days of proceedings in Tulsa County District Court.
The grand jury is investigating events surrounding the April 2 shooting of Eric Harris by Reserve Deputy Robert Bates, 74. Bates is a close friend, fishing buddy and former campaign manager for Glanz.
Bates said he mixed up his Taser and his firearm when he shot Harris following an undercover gun buy. He was charged with second-degree manslaughter and has pleaded not guilty.
Former Undersheriff Brian Edwards also appeared at the courthouse Friday but apparently has yet to testify. Edwards was serving as undersheriff in 2009 when he reportedly ordered an internal affairs investigation that examined concerns about Bates’ lack of training and alleged abuse of power.
Bates was acting on his own as an advanced reserve deputy, though he apparently lacked the required training to do so. The resulting internal affairs report was addressed to Edwards, who hasn’t said publicly whether Glanz was shown the document.
Immediately after Bates shot Harris, the Sheriff’s Office denied that the IA report existed.
The Frontier reported in April that internal TCSO records show Glanz was at least aware of allegations in 2009 that Bates’ training records were falsified and employees had raised concerns about unethical behavior.
An Aug. 5, 2009, memo titled “unprofessional behavior” from employee Bonnie Fidler addressed to Glanz appears to be hand-initialed “SG” in the corner. The document outlines several incidents that concerned Fidler, including former Undersheriff Tim Albin telling her to make a training certificate for Bates.
“I believed that the training was not done and it is false, but Chief Albin signed it and so did the Sheriff,” Fidler wrote in the memo to Glanz.
Reporters for The Frontier obtained that memo and other documents from an anonymous source.
Glanz and other TCSO officials have maintained Bates was properly trained that his ability to serve on the violent crimes task force were unrelated to his personal and financial relationships with the department.
During his comments to reporters Friday, Clark said he was proud of his service to the citizens during his employment at the Sheriff’s Office.
“I think being loyal and ethical led to my demise,” he said.
His attorney, Eric Stall, said Clark could not discuss details of his testimony.
“Shannon was wrongfully terminated for a misbelief that he released the 2009 report and that he planned to run for sheriff,” Stall said.
When asked whether Clark planned to sue the Sheriff’s Office for wrongful termination, Stall said: “We’re going to move forward with the process and see how it plays out.”
Also testifying Friday was Deputy Billy McKelvey, who was demoted from captain to deputy in the fallout over the shooting.
Shena Burgess, an attorney for McKelvey, confirmed that McKelvey testified before the grand jury Friday but declined to elaborate.
When McKelvey was asked in April by reporters for The Frontier whether anyone at the Sheriff’s Office had expressed concerns about Bates’ training prior to Harris’ death, he said: “Not that I’m aware of.”
Glanz has not responded to multiple requests from The Frontier for an interview about issues being investigated by the grand jury. His spokesman, Terry Simonson, has said previously that Glanz is unable to comment publicly on issues that are under investigation related to his office.