As he walks down the grassy shoulder of a blacktop Nowata County road, Joshua Stand turns to look at the Oklahoma Highway Patrol trooper screaming and pointing a gun at him.
The video shows the OHP trooper coming out of his patrol car angry, with his gun drawn. Stand, barefoot and shirtless, keeps walking. The 35-year-old man with a long history of mental illness is well known in the tiny community of Delaware as odd but harmless.
“Hey, stop! Hey! I told you to stop!” screams the trooper, Jerrod Martin. “Put the knife down and stop!”
A witness to the shooting later said she did not see a knife in Stand’s hand as he ran from Martin.
Stand makes no attempt to turn and face Martin and says over his shoulder: “Get the fuck away from me, I ain’t done nothing.”
“I want to talk to you, you better stop!” Martin yells.
“Leave me the fuck alone!” Stand responds.
He begins to run and Martin, now off camera, gives chase through a rural area with several homes. Within a few short minutes, Stand is dead, his body riddled with eight bullets from Martin’s gun, including two that entered his back and one in his buttock.
In a report to Oklahoma’s Department of Public Safety, Kevin Buchanan, district attorney for Washington and Nowata counties, concluded the shooting on June 16, 2014 was justified.
“The evidence does not support filing any criminal charges against Trooper Jerrod Martin,” states the report, obtained by The Frontier. Those conclusions were based on a 200-page investigative report by OHP.
“Although Trooper Martin had his weapon drawn from the initial contact because of the presence of the knife, he followed Joshua Stand a significant distance on foot all the while attempting to obtain assistance from other law enforcement,” the report states.
The report describes Stand’s behavior as “erratic,” and notes the autopsy found the presence of methamphetamine in his blood. It notes that at “one or more points” in the encounter, Stand “turned and was brandishing the knife in the direction of Trooper Martin.”
The OHP release from 2014 states that Stand was making “stabbing or chopping motions with the knife” and that Martin shot him nine times, twice in the back, after Stand took a step toward the trooper.
However, Martin’s version of events in the prosecutor’s report is different in several important ways from the accounts given by two eyewitnesses, records show. Those accounts are detailed in a new federal civil rights lawsuit filed Wednesday in by Joshua’s mother, Peggy Stand, against Martin. The suit, filed by Tulsa attorney Dan Smolen, alleges excessive force.
While Martin claimed Stand brandished a pocket knife at him, the witnesses told investigators for the family that Stand had a small pocket knife but the blade was not open. One witness said when Stand initially ran past her with Martin in pursuit, he had no knife in his hands.
They said Stand was not moving toward the trooper, who was across a street, or brandishing a weapon when he was shot.
Charles Hill was sitting on his porch using binoculars to watch birds in his yard when the two ran past, records state.
“Mr. Hill saw both Trooper Martin and Mr. Stand, through his binoculars, when the shooting took place,” states the lawsuit. “Trooper Martin was across the street from Stand. Mr. Stand was facing Trooper Martin across the street.”
Stand allegedly yelled “I didn’t do nothing, leave me alone!” before Hill heard at least five gunshots.
“According to Mr. Hill, Stand did not charge at Trooper Martin or threaten Trooper Martin. Rather Mr. Stand was standing still across the street when Trooper Martin began shooting,” the suit claims.
After Stand was shot, Hill jumped in his truck and drove a short distance to the shooting scene. He observed Stand lying motionless on his back.
“Mr. Hill also observed a pocketknife next to Stand on the ground. Importantly, the pocketknife was closed,” the suit states.
A second witness, Linda Koscielny, told investigators she was in her yard when a man ran past her, being pursued by a trooper. The trooper ordered her to get into the house, saying: “He’s got a knife!”
“Linda looked at Mr. Stand, who was still running from Trooper Martin, and noted that Stand did not appear to have a knife,” the suit states. “Linda could see both of Stand’s hands, but did not see any knife.”
Koscielny pleaded with Martin not to shoot Stand and heard Stand yell: “I’m not going to hurt anyone!”
“Linda briefly saw Stand pull out a closed pocket knife and motion the closed pocket knife toward his own chest,” the suit states. “Mr. Stand began walking backwards. Not toward Trooper Martin.”
Koscielny went inside her house to check on her granddaughter and as she was returning outside, she heard the shots. She walked closer to the shooting scene, where she saw Martin standing across the street from Stand’s now lifeless body.
“‘Why did you shoot him, why did you kill him?’” Koscielny yelled at Marin, according to the suit. “Trooper Martin did not respond.”
“Just a good boy”
It wasn’t a coincidence that Joshua Stand’s last request was: “leave me alone.” Stand had been diagnosed as paranoid schizophrenic months before the shooting while hospitalized in Wagoner.
His mother, Peggy Stand, told The Frontier that Joshua was the oldest of her three sons and “was quiet, just a good boy” growing up in the rural Nowata County town.
“He was excellent in football. … He never gave us a bit of trouble. He loved hunting and fishing,” she said.
Stand attended and played football at Haskell Indian College, where he told his mom he began to hear voices.
“I think that’s when it started. He started changing. He just really went and got strange,” she said.
That began a period of many years in which Stand would take his medication and stay out of trouble, then stop and begin acting erratically. He “self medicated” with street drugs and his family had to call police for help several times, fearing for his safety when they did, Peggy Stand said.
Though Joshua had numerous run ins with the law, he was never violent and everyone in town knew him, she said. He was a hard worker, first at his father’s trucking company and then as a ranch hand. He loved animals and brought home a stray dog that now lives with his mom.
Stand’s mental health issues were so overwhelming, that he had rejected civilization, opting to live on the land, surviving on whatever he could catch from the Verdigris River and the generosity of a nearby grocery store.
He had been arrested at least five times there between 1999 and 2014 for charges including drug possession, firearm possession after conviction of a felony and DUI. In the most recent case, it was Trooper Martin who had arrested Stand on seven counts.
On June 11, 2014, Stand pleaded guilty to several counts and no contest to others, receiving a five-year deferred sentence.
At that court hearing his family convinced the judge that Stand needed to be placed in a treatment facility rather than being released home. However the judge asked relatives to keep track of Stand through the weekend until he could be transported there.
Peggy Stand said her son “went down to the river and he said he wasn’t going to be in civilization any more. He was just camping out on the river.”
On that Monday, the day his family planned to pick up Stand and take him to a treatment facility, Peggy Stand learned her son had been fatally shot by a trooper.
“It has just devastated us,” she said. “It’s just a hard loss. I can’t hardly think about it.”
Family members believe the shooting was not thoroughly investigated by OHP and they have called for an independent investigation. She said they have worked to focus attention on Stand’s case and held a vigil last year in front of Buchanan’s office.
This year, friends and family plan to hold a candlelight service Thursday night on the spot where Martin shot Stand to death, she said.
“People in this small town, we drive down this street where he was killed; we go down that street that he was running down every day.”
After the shooting, a neighbor told NewsOn6 that Stand “he’s peaceful, you know, he gets on the Internet, reads the news. That’s what he’s looking at, he’s looking at the newspaper, and stuff, and he just reading. He’s just sitting there as peaceful as can be. I can’t understand,” she said.
For Peggy Stand, questions remain about how the paths of her son and Martin crossed that day.
The lawsuit alleges that “Trooper Martin was angry that Mr. Stand had been released from jail” on June 11. “It was also known to Trooper Martin, and most everyone in the local community, that Mr. Stand was mentally ill.”
He had been hospitalized at least four times in the past for treatment of his schizophrenia.
An OHP release from 2014 stated that Martin saw Stand walking down the road, then radioed a dispatcher to see if Stand, whom he recognized, had any outstanding warrants. The dispatcher replied that Stand had no warrants for his arrest, so Martin continued driving, the release stated.
Not long after passing by Stand, however, Martin said he heard over the radio that a man was walking in traffic on U.S. 169 with a knife.
But Smolen said he has seen no documentation of any reports about a man with a knife. He said believes it would be difficult for motorists driving by on U.S. 169 to spot a four-inch pocket knife held by a man walking down the road.
When Martin first encountered Stand, he was actually walking on a county road near the highway. about seven miles north of Nowata, Martin was on paid leave for nearly two months before being cleared in the shooting.
In a study by the Washington Post, Oklahoma ranked No. 1 per capita in the nation in fatal encounters with law enforcement.
Smolen said the system set up to investigate law enforcement shootings is supposed to protect citizens. However, nearly all police-involved shootings in the state are ruled justified.
“By allowing law enforcement agencies to investigate law enforcement agencies, you create a scenario where you are a state that you are the most likely to be shot be a police officer in the entire community,” Smolen said.
Peggy Stand said she believes all law enforcement officers, including troopers, should wear body cameras so there’s a complete record of officer-involved shootings.
As she searched for her son down by the river just days before his death, Peggy Stand told folks at the Warrior grocery store: “If you see Josh, tell him his mama wants him to come home. He just never came home after that.”