Okmulgee County DA To Investigate Tulsa Sheriff's Office

Wednesday, May 20th 2015, 2:51 pm
By: News On 6

Tulsa County District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler asked Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to appoint another prosecutor to coordinate any investigation of the Tulsa County Sheriff's Office.

Attorney General Scott Pruitt says he assigned Okmulgee County District Attorney Rob Barris to the head up the investigation.

On April 2, 2015 Tulsa County Reverse Deputy Robert Bates shot and killed Eric Harris during an undercover gun sting. He said he accidentally pulled his gun instead of his Taser. Kunzweiler charged Robert Bates with second-degree manslaughter on April 13.

Kunzweiler said the release on April 24 of an August 2009 internal memo from the Tulsa County Sheriff's Office raised additional concerns beyond the scope of the manslaughter case.

“Since the release of that internal affairs memo by the Tulsa County Sheriff's Office my focus has been to request an investigation into the serious issues and allegations raised by that memo. I am satisfied that the investigations I have requested are underway,” Kunzweiler said.

“Because the Tulsa County District Attorney's Office has historically provided representation to the Tulsa County Sheriff's Office on a number of civil litigation matters, I am concerned that there could be a perception that my office might have a conflict in directing such an investigation into the internal affairs of the Tulsa County Sheriff's Office. In order to protect the integrity of the investigative process and to assure the objectivity of any decisions which may flow from that investigative process, I believe the recusal of my office is necessary.” 

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Pruitt said he expects Okmulgee County DA Rob Barris to conduct a thorough investigation.

“My office has been coordinating and communicating regularly with District Attorney Kunzweiler as he assessed what steps were appropriate to investigate allegations of wrongdoing at the Tulsa County Sheriff's Office. I appreciate District Attorney Kunzweiler's assistance as this matter is transitioned to another office. I have confidence District Attorney Barris will be able to conduct a thorough and independent investigation to ensure the interests and concerns of citizens are addressed as it relates to the sheriff's office,” Attorney General Pruitt said.