Oklahoma sheriff indicted, plans to resign

AP News
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Posted: Sep 30, 2015 5:58 PM

TULSA, Okla. (AP) — An Oklahoma sheriff quickly decided to resign Wednesday after being indicted by a grand jury that investigated his office following the fatal shooting of an unarmed man by a volunteer deputy who said he mistook his handgun for a stun gun.

Grand jurors indicted Tulsa Sheriff Stanley Glanz on two misdemeanor counts. One accuses the longtime sheriff of refusing to perform his official duties for not promptly releasing documents in an internal investigation related to volunteer deputy Robert Bates, his longtime friend.

Bates' training and the reserve deputy program came into question after Bates, a 74-year-old former insurance executive, fatally shot Eric Harris as Harris was being restrained by a sheriff's deputy in April. The grand jury was called after thousands of residents signed a petition asking for an investigation.

Glanz plans to plead not guilty, his attorney said after the Wednesday court hearing where the charges were announced.

"Sheriff Glanz respects the process," attorney Scott Wood said outside the courtroom. "He respects the people."

The grand jury also recommended that Glanz resign, and Wood said the sheriff — who has long refused calls to step down — would resign before a Nov. 10 hearing on the indictments.

The second misdemeanor accuses Glanz of willful violation of the law in an unrelated incident involving a stipend he received for a vehicle allowance.

Bates has pleaded not guilty to second-degree manslaughter in the fatal shooting of Harris, who was caught up in an alleged illegal gun-sales sting. Bates has since left the agency.

Harris' brother, Andre Harris, also was in the packed courtroom Wednesday. He declined to comment on the case.

But 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. We are citizens who count, we matter and we make a difference."

The 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.

The grand jury also submitted a list of 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.

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.

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 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.

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This story has been updated to correct the spelling of the sheriff's first name to Stanley, not Staley.