Former Tulsa deputy testifies before grand jury

AP News
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Posted: Sep 01, 2015 1:30 PM

TULSA, Okla. (AP) — An Oklahoma sheriff's deputy who says he was pressured to sign off on memos regarding the training of a reserve deputy accused of fatally shooting an unarmed man testified Tuesday before a grand jury looking into the agency.

Warren Crittenden, who was a corporal in the internal affairs division, testified for more than an hour in Tulsa district court before jurors hearing evidence for the fifth week in the case.

Thousands of residents petitioned for an investigation into the Tulsa County Sheriff's Office after volunteer deputy Robert Bates fatally shot Eric Harris in April. Bates, who has since left the agency, has pleaded not guilty to second-degree manslaughter and says he confused his handgun and stun gun in the shooting.

Bates is a close friend of Sheriff Stanley Glanz and previously donated thousands of dollars in cash, cars and equipment to the agency, raising questions about the reserve deputy program and whether Bates and others received special treatment in return for the gifts.

Crittenden, a deputy from 1995 until 2011, said in a leaked 2009 memo he was afraid to not sign paperwork that said Bates was qualified for duty.

Fearing he would be transferred if he didn't comply, Crittenden told investigators in 2009 that he felt pressured by superiors to sign off on a memo stating that Bates had completed 328 hours of training, which violated policy requiring 480 hours of training, according to the report.

After he testified Tuesday, Crittenden and his attorney, Brett Swab, said Crittenden's name would be cleared and that "the truth" would eventually come out.

"I was asked to come here and tell the truth, which is what I've done," he said. "It feels good to tell the truth." Crittenden and Swab declined to describe the nature of the testimony.

A spokesman for the sheriff's office didn't immediately return a message seeking comment on Crittenden's testimony Tuesday.

In a separate case, Crittenden was charged with first-degree murder in the shooting of a man in January at a Tulsa motel, but a judge dismissed that charge last month. Crittenden has become a material witness in the motel shooting case.

Jurors previously heard testimony from Undersheriff Brian Edwards, who ordered the 2009 report. Edwards left the sheriff's department in 2012 for another job in law enforcement.