Family members and friends gather Thursday evening to remember Joshua Stand, who was fatally shot by an Oklahoma Highway Patrol trooper. KASSIE MCCLUNG/The Frontier

On a half-mile stretch of blacktop road near the town of Delaware, about 50 people gathered Thursday evening to trace Joshua Stand’s last steps.

The group walked up the rural road, into an area with several homes and stopped near the corner where Stand was struck eight times by bullets.

An Oklahoma Highway Patrol trooper fatally shot Stand on June 16, 2014. On the two-year anniversary of Stand’s death, family and friends held a vigil to remember him.

Lorie Bell, Stand’s aunt, said they considered holding a protest, but decided to hold an event that focused on remembering him.

“Even though what has happened and transpired, it’s just about Josh,” she said. “So we wanted our family and friends just to be able to come and have a time of him.”

Stella Stand, Joshua Stand’s aunt, said he was shot just down the road from where he grew up.

Delaware is a small, tight-knit town of just over 400 people. Stand, a 35-year-old with a long history of mental illness, liked to frequent the grocery store nearby for meals and was well-known in the community.

Stella Stand/Lorie

Lorie Bell (left) and Stella Stand comfort each other before they begin the walk to trace Joshua Stand’s last steps. KASSIE MCCLUNG/The Frontier

“This is the place he loved, and we felt as a family we wanted to be close to Josh this year,” Stella Stand said. “We could have protested any place, but we felt this year it needed to be here, and you can see the turnout of people that cared for Josh.”

Last year, Stand’s family and friends protested near the district attorney’s office when the DA’s report cleared Trooper Jarrod Martin of wrongdoing in connection with the shooting.

On Wednesday, Peggy Stand, Joshua Stand’s mother, filed a federal lawsuit against Martin. The lawsuit claims Martin used “objectively unreasonable and excessive deadly force” when he shot Joshua Stand.

Martin, Jerrod

Jerrod Martin. Courtesy

The lawsuit also states Martin knew that Joshua Stand was mentally ill.

According to a 2014 OHP report, Martin saw Joshua Stand walking down the road and radioed a dispatcher to see if Stand had any outstanding warrants. The dispatcher said no.

Soon after, Martin responded to a man fitting Stand’s description walking down the middle of U.S. 169 with a knife, the report states.

Witness accounts of what happened during the time Stand first made contact with Trooper Jarrod Martin and when the shooting occurred differ. The accounts are detailed in the new federal civil lawsuit.

In accounts detailed in the lawsuit against Martin, witnesses said they either didn’t see a knife in Stand’s hand or that he had a pocketknife with him, but the blade wasn’t drawn.

However, the prosecutor who cleared Martin of wrongdoing in August 2014 determined the shooting was justified.

Martin killed Stand after Stand had “turned, removed a knife from his pocket and took a step toward Martin,” District Attorney Kevin Buchanan wrote in a report to Oklahoma’s Department of Public Safety.

The report states that Stand’s autopsy found the presence of methamphetamine in his blood, and his behavior during the incident was “erratic.” The report also said that Stand was brandishing a knife “in the direction of Trooper Martin.”

Stand was arrested at least five times between 1999 and 2014 for charges including drug possession, firearm possession after conviction of a felony and DUI. In the most recent case, Martin had arrested Stand on on seven counts.

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Stella Stand said that Joshua Stand went to school in the area and played football. When he was shot, it shook the community, she said.

“People thought it was outrageous and it wasn’t needed,” Stella Stand said. “They knew Josh, they knew what he was like.”

On Thursday evening, the group ended its walk where Joshua Stand was shot. Stella Stand announced that the federal lawsuit was filed Wednesday and said she would bring attention to Joshua Stand’s case every year if she had to.

Bell said even when Stand was struggling with his mental illness, nobody in the community was afraid of him.

“The community is behind us,” Bell said. “We wouldn’t be able to do this if we didn’t have our community behind us and our family.

You think no one is going to come or you think no one is standing with you but then you turn around and you see these people, they really might not say it out loud to you, but when they show up, it says more than you could ever ask for.”