Oklahoma sheriff files motion to dismiss grand jury petition

AP News
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Posted: Jun 24, 2015 1:33 PM

TULSA, Okla. (AP) — The embattled Tulsa County Sheriff's Office asked a judge Wednesday to toss a petition calling for a grand jury investigation into the agency, saying the petition was misleading and made no specific allegations against the office.

An organizer of the petition drive, however, said all laws were followed during the signature-gathering process and called Wednesday's motion "comical."

The motion on behalf of Tulsa County Sheriff Stanley Glanz asks a district judge to dismiss the 6,647 signatures gathered by the civil rights group, We The People Oklahoma. The sheriff's motion argues that the signature form tried to distill 15 pages of allegations against Glanz into a four-line summary.

"The unauthorized signature form fails to contain the most basic information that would permit an elector to make a knowledgeable decision with regard to the propriety of grand jury proceedings," the document stated.

Terry Simonson, a spokesman for the sheriff's office, also said that circulators didn't follow the law.

The petition drive began after volunteer deputy Robert Bates shot an unarmed man on April 2; he claimed he mistook his handgun for a stun gun. Bates, who has pleaded not guilty to second-degree manslaughter, is a friend of Glanz and has donated tens of thousands of dollars in cash and equipment to the agency.

Tulsa County District Judge Rebecca Nightingale will next decide whether to empanel the grand jury. Nightingale's clerk said the judge wasn't in her office Wednesday and could not comment on some of the claims made in the motion.

The group's grand jury petition asks for an investigation into whether Glanz neglected his duties and whether reserve deputies who gave donations to the sheriff were given special treatment.

Petition organizer Marq Lewis said all laws were followed in the signature-gathering process, and that an entire copy of the allegations was available to would-be signees at every location.

"It's comical. The bottom line is you stated in the beginning that you welcome a grand jury, why are you fighting it now?" Lewis said. "The will of the people has spoken."

Glanz isn't afraid to appear before a "properly called and legally empaneled grand jury," Simonson said.

The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation is already looking into the shooting after a leaked 2009 memo raised concerns about Bates' training. The reserve deputy program also has been temporarily suspended pending a review of the certification and training records of its 126 reservists.

Glanz, who took office in 1989, has said that he won't step down because of the shooting but also won't seek re-election next year.