Okla. trooper's use of force justified

PoliceOne spoke today with a contact we have at the Oklahoma Highway Patrol, who informed us that Troopers Tommy Allen and Daniel Martin have been cleared of excessive force accusations and have returned to their patrol duties. A review board looked at dash cam video of the incident and ruled that the force in the case was reasonable, justified, and furthermore, exactly what the agency trains its officers.

“It was a textbook case of escalation of force — one strike for compliance — and then a de-escalation of force,” said our contact, who declined to have his name identified in this report.

Last week, the agency held a press conference during which officials said the troopers were justified in their use of force against Christopher Douglass. Oklahoma Highway Patrol has cleared Troopers Allen and Martin of any wrongdoing in the incident, which took place near the town of Holdenville (Okla.) in early October. On the other side of that coin, Douglass is now charged with obstructing a police officer.

The newly released video of the October incident shows Martin using a single strike to Douglass’ leg in order to get control a subject who would have otherwise fled the scene.

“This could have been over, right here, if the person would have complied with the officers’ directions,” said Lt. Tim Tipton in that news briefing. “Twice so far, that [incident] would have been over with.”

KJRH-TV, the local NBC News affiliate in the area, said on its Web site that, “based on the investigation and review board, Colonel Van M. Guillotte, Chief of the Highway Patrol, determined the use of force was justified, appropriate, and not excessive.”

Another local television station quoted Lt. Tipton as saying — and quite correctly so — that sometimes the work that officers are involved with can get ugly. Sometimes cops have to put their hands on people. Looking at this case, it’s clear that the use of force was appropriate.

“Once Trooper Martin felt this person was going backward trying to escape, that is when the strike is made,” Tipton said.

Many PoliceOne members will remember Trooper Martin’s name from another — totally unrelated — episode earlier this year. Martin had served a five-day suspension for a May 24th incident in which he “grabbed a paramedic in a choke hold around the neck” according to a report from the Associated Press.

Videotape from the dash cam in Trooper Martin’s patrol car surfaced soon after the May incident, and almost immediately “went viral” on the Internet. FOX News, CNN, and numerous other national media organizations rushed to present the video in their broadcasts. That video showed “paramedic Maurice White Jr. repeatedly telling Martin he has a patient in the back and wants to go to the hospital,” said one Associated Press report posted to PoliceOne in mid-June.

PoliceOne received links to the video from dozens of our members, and posted several reports from the mainstream media chronicling events in that episode.

According to reports, the district attorney looked at the video and other facts of the case and declined to file charges against either Trooper Martin or EMT White.

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