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Officer sues former sheriff, undersheriff for alleged defamation

OKMULGEE, Okla. (AP) -- A former Okmulgee County undersheriff
said he was shocked that a police officer sued him and the former
Okmulgee County sheriff for defamation.

In a petition filed Wednesday in District Court, Okmulgee police
Officer Kevin Reed alleges the defamation came in a letter sent to
his superiors by then-Okmulgee County Sheriff Dayle James and
Undersheriff Audie Cole.

The letter accused Reed of being "unprofessional, unkind to a
citizen with a mental problem" and acting "with no regard as to
the possible consequences of his actions," the lawsuit said.

Okmulgee police Chief Leo Willey, Mayor Gary Kelley and City
Councilors Grant Griffin and Preston Griffith received the letter,
the lawsuit states.

James and Cole no longer work in the Sheriff's Office. James
announced his resignation in March and was replaced in June by
Cole, who left Sept. 30 to become police chief at Henryetta.

"I'm sorry it happened, but it wasn't our fault," Cole said.

According to the lawsuit, Reed arrested a man Dec. 14, 1998, and
brought him to the Okmulgee County Jail.

There, acting on orders from James and Cole, jailers refused to
accept the prisoner and "allowed him to run at large contrary to
law in the state of Oklahoma," the petition said.

Neither James nor Reed could be reached for comment.

Reed's lawsuit asks for compensatory damages of at least $10,000
and punitive damages of at least $10,000.

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