Body Cam Shows Arrest Of Muskogee Veteran In Walmart
MUSKOGEE, Oklahoma -
A veteran arrested by Muskogee police turned himself in Friday after prosecutors filed four charges against him.
The new development came not long after police release bodycam video of the arrest. Muskogee Police put together a presentation, showing different body camera angles of Jason Williams' arrest. Police said the local veteran organizations that have seen the video are backing the blue.
The body camera footage shows the moment police pull Jason Williams from his wheelchair and try to handcuff him. Muskogee police said they tried to de-escalate the situation for about 20 minutes before officers put hands on him.
"You can always point the finger at the police officer, but what actions did the other person make to cause the officer to have to react?" Officer Lincoln Anderson said.
Anderson said police were called to the Walmart because Williams was disturbing the peace after refusing to show his I.D. when buying alcohol. He said officers had every right to ask for his I.D. because they were investigating that crime.
"The misconception is that he committed no crime,” he said. “The fact that he's disturbing the peace is a crime."
Now, police are even calling into question Williams' need for a wheelchair after they released a video from the Walmart parking lot showing Williams walking to a motorized wheelchair and sitting down. Williams' attorney Steve Money said he's not surprised his client is facing charges but disputes the felony of assaulting a police officer.
"I'd kind of like to see that tape,” Money said. “I'm figuring if they had it, they would've shown that one first."
Regardless, Money said he's sure his client wishes he'd acted differently in the heat of the moment.
"I think if everybody could go back in time and wind it back, I think everybody would do it differently,” he said.”
Money said this has nothing to do with whether or not Williams is a disabled veteran, but says they have all the proof they need, to show that he is. Williams’ status as a disabled veteran has been in question since the video went viral over the weekend.
Three of Jason Williams' former Army leaders told News On 6 they felt a range of emotions, from annoyance to outrage, when they read Williams' allegedly claimed he was injured during a deployment to Afghanistan.
"He never deployed to any of the combat zones while he was in,” Major Matt Smith said.
"It's a slap in the face to anyone who's ever served," Chief Neil Hatch said.
"There's some things you just don't do,” explained Sergeant Elmer Duffy, “and that's one of them. You don't do that."
These three soldiers said they don't have favorable memories of their time instructing Williams.
“Jason stirred the pot,” Duffy said. “He would do things to get you upset."
They even question whether or not Williams was injured during his time in the Army.
"At no point was ever he injured while he was a member of the military," Smith said.
But Williams' attorney Steve Money says three documents, given to his client Friday by the VA, show differently.
“I think the documents say what they say," he said.
One document claims Williams has a 100% service-connected disability rating, and he's considered to be "totally and permanently disabled" due to those disabilities.
“His injuries occurred when he got caught in between these two trucks some way,” Money said.
It's an incident Money said Williams told him happened in Germany, not in Afghanistan.
"He said, ‘I've never said I was in Afghanistan.’ He said, ‘My unit was deployed to Afghanistan.’"
But Williams' former commander insisted that part of the story never happened.
“Nobody in my company pinned him between two trucks of any type,” Smith said.
Regardless, Money said Williams' military status won't come into play in court.
"The veteran issue has been a little bit of a sideshow,” he said. “It would be irrelevant in court."
News On 6’s Taylor Newcomb received a service verification from the U.S. Army. It states Williams served in the Army from May 2003-January 2008 and has no record of deployment.
Major Smith said Williams was given a “general discharge” for misconduct in 2008, but the Army was unable to comment on why he was discharged.