Tulsa Police Chief Chuck Jordan issued a statement Friday afternoon about Rogers County Sheriff Scott Walton berating one of his officers.
News On 6 broke the story on Thursday, after obtaining an audio recording of a phone call made by Sheriff Walton in which he curses at Officer Craig Heatherly and calls him a (expletive) coward three times.
The controversy began on May 24, 2017, when Heatherly said he was pulling over a possible suspect's car in East Tulsa. While he was waiting for backup, he tried to flag down a Rogers County deputy's car but says it just drove past.
He went home and posted about it on Facebook, saying something like: "Thanks to the Rogers County deputy that drove by me today without helping... while I was on a felony car stop by myself."
Sheriff Walton called Heatherly's supervisor to get the post taken down, but eventually called Heatherly at home to get him to apologize. Heatherly's wife used her phone's camera to record the end of that conversation, in which Heatherly refused to apologize and Walton called him a (expletive) coward three times.
Sheriff Walton told News On 6 Thursday he was standing up for his deputy and wouldn't change a thing.
At a news conference on Friday afternoon, Walton apologized for the profanity he used, but said he still felt the same way about situation. He said he regrets the foul language but does not regret the message he delivered.
Also on Friday afternoon, Tulsa Police Chief Chuck Jordan released the following statement about the situation:
"Regarding the behavior of Sheriff Walton in dealing with a Facebook post, I will only say that I think his actions and comments were inappropriate for an elected official and agency head. I would never speak to one of my own employees in such a manner, much less someone else’s. The ultimate assessment of his comments will be made by the citizens of Rogers County.
As to Officer Heatherly, he is a decorated Marine who served in a combat capacity In Operation Enduring Freedom and was engaged in other operations around the globe. In 2015 he and his wife founded a non-profit called the Oklahoma Veteran’s Project for the purpose of “Restoring Veteran’s and their Families.” This program has held a Christmas program titled Santa’s Heroes since 2015 and has provided Christmas presents for [more] than 600 children in its first two years.
Officer Heatherly is also in negotiations with the City of Muskogee to accept land on which he plans to construct a community of approximately 50 tiny homes for homeless and at-risk veterans. Construction of the first house begins in August and he expects to house a veteran in this house within 60 days of construction.
Heatherly has been an exemplary officer since he joined TPD. In other words, Craig has shown his bravery and dedication to his country and his community consistently. That is not the profile of a coward but exactly the opposite."