After Shooting, Muskogee Police Working To Implement Pastors' Suggestions
MUSKOGEE, Oklahoma - The District Attorney decided a Muskogee officer was justified in using deadly force against a man threatening to shoot his girlfriend at a wedding.
Police body camera video was enough to convince the DA that Officer Chansey McMillin faced a direct threat.
The situation is still giving Muskogee a police a chance to examine its practices.
The shooting happened last month, and since, almost everything has been unprecedented.
Muskogee police released the body cam video and hosted a meeting with the community to explain what happened.
Monday night, after the DA's ruling, local pastors offered suggestions for police.
Pastors and city leaders called a press conference not to respond to the district attorney's ruling, but to make requests of Muskogee Police.
"We cannot call for peace without calling for accountability," said Muskogee pastor, Roscoe Beasley.
Beasley's intentions are three-fold: to minimize the loss of life, foster a stronger relationship between police and community members and ensure all police actions are just.
The men are asking police to: make the department more diverse in race and gender, create programs, like coffee with a cop, to better engage with the community, establish police substations and teach the techniques - how officers handle pat downs, fleeing and armed suspects.
Pastor Marlon Coleman said, "We want to be certain that we have a background within the police department that we can engage the community appropriately."
Muskogee Police Chief Rex Eskridge is not at all disheartened by the suggestions. In fact, he said his department is already working to implement them.
"Getting involved in kids' lives, rather than just a superficial way," he said.
He doesn't regret his department releasing so much about the shooting - the body camera video and information with the public at the community meeting.
Finding ways to answer the requests is difficult, but he believes it's also productive.
"We didn't want to have a bunker mentality, if you will. We were trying to be more transparent and we feel like that's part of the solution," Eskridge said.
The local pastors said the department's true test is to come.
"We want the best for our community and we're looking out for the best for our community. Every life matters and we don't want any renegades and we don't want anyone trying to take action in their own hands," Pastor Michael Webber said.
The point driven home more than any other, is that the men do not wish ill for McMillin.
They said they are praying for him, but do want him to take on an administrative role, for his safety, and the community's safety.