A grand jury has indicted an Oklahoma sheriff on a charge of refusing to perform his official duties in an investigation related to a volunteer deputy and longtime friend who said he mistook his handgun for a stun gun when he fatally shot an unarmed man.
Tulsa County Sheriff Stanley Glanz decided quickly to resign after he was indicted during a court hearing Wednesday on two misdemeanor counts, one accusing him of not promptly releasing documents in the internal investigation involving deputy Robert Bates. Bates’ training and the reserve deputy program came into question after Bates, a former insurance executive, shot 44-year-old Eric Harris during an April sting operation.
The second charge accuses Glanz of willful violation of the law in an unrelated incident involving a stipend he received for a vehicle.
Glanz, who plans to step down before a Nov. 10 hearing in the case, said in a statement that he had always tried to be transparent and make good decisions during his 27 years as sheriff. He said he told grand jurors he would resign if they concluded that was best, which they did in a report released during the hearing.
“I know that my decisions have caused some to criticize me both publicly and privately,” he said in a two-page statement released late Wednesday. “As sheriff, I take responsibility for all decisions made by me or in my name, but I assure you they were all made in good faith.”
Glanz, who didn’t attend the hearing, plans to plead not guilty, his attorney Scott Wood said.
The grand jury was called after thousands of people signed a petition calling for an investigation into Glanz’s office following the death of Harris. Bates is accused of shooting Harris while Harris was restrained by a sheriff’s deputy. Video from the scene captured Bates apologizing for shooting Harris, who was being detained on suspicion that he tried to sell guns to an undercover officer.
Bates — who has pleaded not guilty to second-degree manslaughter in the case — has since left the agency.
Bates had donated thousands of dollars in cash, cars and equipment to the sheriff’s office. His close ties to Glanz and the agency raised questions about the reserve deputy program and whether Bates and others received special treatment in return for the gifts.
Harris’ brother, Andre Harris, declined to comment after the court hearing Wednesday.
Local civil rights organizer Marq Lewis said the indictment marked a win for residents.
“We got justice today,” said Lewis, who leads We the People Oklahoma, the group that organized the grand jury petition drive. “This is a statement to never bet against the citizens, the people of Tulsa County.”
Wednesday’s court hearing was called just hours after grand jurors said they had completed their investigation. Grand jurors met behind closed doors for nine weeks and interviewed more than 30 witnesses, including Glanz.
The documents were given to District Judge Rebecca Nightingale earlier in the day in five sealed envelopes. Some documents remain sealed.
The grand jury also made eight recommendations, including that the sheriff’s office improve its training and documentation, including better accountability of field training hours. It also suggested that the office’s internal affairs department be more autonomous.
The recommendations appeared to address a leaked 2009 memo that alleged top sheriff’s office officials knew Bates was inadequately trained but pressured other officers to look away.
Among the witnesses who testified before the grand jury was a corporal in the internal affairs division, Warren Crittenden, who said he was pressured to sign off on memos saying Bates was qualified for duty.
Crittenden told investigators in the 2009 memo that he feared he’d be transferred if he didn’t OK paperwork stating that Bates had completed his training at 328 hours, which violated policy requiring 480 hours of training, according to the report.
The grand jury also heard from sheriff’s corporal Bill Adams, who called the memo “very accurate,” and said that Glanz could have done more to address its findings.
Both Crittenden and Adams also have left the agency.
Copyright © 2015 Capitol Hill Blue
Copyright © 2015 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved