The Claremore Police Department, along with nine other law enforcement agencies, recently said their relationship with Rogers County District Attorney Janice Steidley has become so difficult, the justice system is no longer functioning properly, which can mean victims are caught in the middle.
One victim said his co-worker threw a skillet of hot oil on him, causing terrible burns that landed him in intensive care. He said it was frustrating that it took five months for charges to be filed.
Jose Cano said he's managed the kitchen and prepared food for the past six years at El Azteca restaurant, in Claremore. In March, he said he accidentally splashed a few drops of hot grease on a co-worker and, despite apologizing, he said the co-worker became furious and grabbed a skillet and came at him.
"The skillet the other gentleman grabbed was full of hot oil," Cano said. "He tried to hold it back, but the best I could do was turn away, so it didn't get my whole body. But it got my chin, ear and left side of my body."
The burns were terrible.
He said no one at work got him help for two and a half hours. He tried taking off his shirt, but it took off his skin. He went into the walk-in cooler, but nothing helped.
Cano ended up spending 12 days in the ICU, getting skin grafts. He said it's been an agonizing recovery.
"There's quite a bit of damage to my arm. I get some pain that's quite severe," Cano said.
During all this, he wanted charges filed against the co-worker, Alejandro Toto.
Claremore police say they sent the DA a solid case, with statements from the victim and witnesses saying Toto did it. They say, through his girlfriend, Toto gave a statement admitting he did it, but only after Cano splashed him first.
But the DA declined to file charges and told police to get an official interpreter for Toto's statement.
Police think the DA had plenty to file charges sooner.
The DA thinks the police should've done a more thorough job.
Some say this is indicative of a larger issue between the two agencies: one of a lack of communication and trust.
Cano and his attorney don't know who's at fault, they just know five months is a long time to wait for charges.
"It does seem like a long time. Glad it's come to this point. We're confident they'll do what they need to from this point out," said Cano's attorney, Alberto Franco.
Janice Steidley said her office was diligent in handling the case. She said they must make sure the evidence they are going to need for court is included in the report sent to them.
She said, within two days of receiving the completed report, charges were approved and a warrant was sent to the judge.