Tulsa Police Officer Attorney Talks About Officer-Involved Shooting

Friday, September 27th 2013, 7:18 pm
By: News On 6

Cell phone video from earlier this week of Tulsa police officers shooting at a woman who had a gun. A viewer sent News On 6 the video.

In it, you can hear the officers' fire more than 20 shots at the woman before she gets in her truck and takes off to a different location, where she is eventually arrested.

The General Counsel for the National Tactical Officers Association says citizens often have misconceptions about what officers should or should not do or are even able to do in that moment of extreme stress.

You can't see a great deal in the cell phone video, but you can hear the volley of shots being fired by two Tulsa police officers.

A neighbor says before the shooting, Shelia Ann Wright, 54, had tried to kick in his front door armed with a gun. He ran her off and says she then jumped into a neighbor's car but again he chased her away.  That is when she got into her truck and led police officers on a chase.  She stopped and that is when 28 shots were fired. 

Police say Wright drove two more miles before stopping again.  She was arrested after a standoff.

9/25/2013 Related Story: Woman Leads Police On Chase, Engages In Standoff In North Tulsa

Attorney Scott Wood has done extensive research on police involved shootings and represents the two officers involved in this case.

He says some people might think 28 rounds are excessive, but says two officers can fire that in a matter of seconds and it follows their training.

"The officers are entitled to use deadly force as long as the threat was still there which means the suspect either goes down and they get the gun away or in this case, she left the scene with the gun," said Scott Wood.

Some citizens may wonder if they shot that many times, how were they not able to stop her, but Wood says things like ducking for cover and worrying about who's in the background can affect accuracy.

He also points out, most officers are not sharp shooters and they simply go to the range once a year to for a few hours to qualify and many go an entire career without ever firing in the line of duty.

"The expectations are definitely unrealistic. It's hard to simulate in training, literally being scared to death, being afraid for your life," said Scott Wood.

A study by the National Institute of Justice says after a shooting, half the officers had trouble sleeping and a quarter of them cried. Some had headaches, nausea, loss of appetite and some of those symptoms were still present even three months later.

"It's necessary, but, not an aspect of the job any police officer enjoys. They do it because they're forced into situations where they absolutely have to," said Scott Wood.

Wright remains in the hospital recovering from bullet wounds to her arm and hip.

Both police officers are on routine administrative leave until the criminal investigation is over. When the district attorney decides if the shooting was justified, then they'll go through an internal affairs investigation plus a shooting review board to see if they followed Tulsa Police Department policy.