Muskogee Police Identify Officers In Officer-Involved Shooting

Thursday, January 2nd 2014, 1:52 pm
By: News On 6

A police traffic stop in Muskogee ended in gunfire Thursday afternoon.

Authorities say it happened after Officer Joe Poffel pulled over a car that had been reported.  Muskogee Police say this is the very reason a second officer, Wesley Biles is called in for traffic stops.

They also say one of the officers involved in the shooting is the same one who took the report on the stolen car earlier in the day.

For any officer, there's no such thing as a routine traffic stop.

"I don't think any of us come to work, thinking we have to fire a weapon or discharge a weapon," said Muskogee Police Corporal Michael Mahan.

He says when Muskogee Police pull over a stolen car, everyone inside the vehicle is taken into custody.

He says that's what the Poffel and Biles were trying to do around 12:30 Thursday afternoon when the situation escalated.

"None of us what to be put into that situation," Corporal Mahan said.

He said Poffel pulled over the Ford Escort with three people inside.

A back-up officer, Wesley Biles arrived and was assisting in the arrests of the driver, Marvin Green, and two passengers, Thomas Estes and an unidentified woman.

Mahan says as Biles tried to place handcuffs on Estes, he became combative, and lunged for the officer's holstered pistol.

"That puts it into a situation where an officer is justified in using deadly force," Corporal Mahan said.

He says that's exactly what Poffel did, firing a shot that hit Estes in the chest.

Investigators are still trying to piece together what exactly happened during the traffic stop, but they say when the shot was fired, the officer was in close proximity to both the suspect and his fellow officer.

"Sometimes there's that literal spilt second decision you have to make," said Corporal Mahan.

Mahan said most officer involved shootings happen at close range.  Neither of the Muskogee police officers involved in the incident were hurt.

"It's part of our training," Corporal Mahan said. "It's part of what we have to go've gotta be thinking, ‘If they end up taking this officers gun, what could they potentially do with that?'"

The woman in the car was questioned and released, and the driver, Marvin Green, was booked into jail on a complaint of receiving stolen property.

Estes was taken to a Muskogee hospital and later transferred to a hospital in Tulsa. His condition was not released.

A Thomas Estes with the same birth date exists in the Department of Corrections database. He previously served a five-year suspended sentence for second degree burglary out of Muskogee County.

Poffel is a six-year veteran of the department, Biles, a seven-year veteran.

The Muskogee County District Attorney's Office will decide if the shooting was justified.