Owasso City Manager Accused Of Demanding Police Tapes Be Destroyed

Tuesday, June 18th 2013, 7:00 pm
By: News On 6

The Owasso City Council will discuss City Manager Rodney Ray in a closed session Tuesday evening. Ray is on suspension pending an internal investigation.

Ray was in court Tuesday on a separate matter. He's been charged with passing a bad check, then filing a false police report about it. The criminal case was postponed Tuesday until July 10.

The reason Ray is on suspension has to do with an internal investigation over two things: questions over a donation made to the city and allegations Ray demanded a videotape be erased.

6/11/2013 Related Story: Owasso City Manager Facing Felony Charge Turns Himself In

The videotape was made when an Owasso police officer pulled over City Councilor Chris Kelley on suspicion of DUI, four months ago.

The officer did not arrest the councilor. Some people say that decision reeks of favoritism.

The police video was taken on February 1, 2013, when an officer stopped Owasso City Councilor and Vice Mayor, Chris Kelley, on suspicion of DUI.

After a field sobriety test, Kelley was placed into custody. The tape was then turned off for a time and when it came back on, Kelley was offered a ride home.

City Manager Rodney Ray is accused of demanding the videotape be erased. That is part of what led to an internal investigation now being conducted by the city into some of Ray's actions.

As for the car stop itself, Police Chief Scott Chambless, has this to say: "I think it's very important for people to understand, every officer who works in the field on any given shift has a certain amount of discretion, particularly when it deals with a misdemeanor."

Having said that, the chief said he's talked with his officers about their use of discretion and said he disagrees with the decision that was made that night. He said, if there's probable cause to make an arrest for DUI, he believes it should be made. But Chambless said he does not believe this was a case of favoritism. He said regular citizens are sometimes given the benefit of the doubt, as well.

6/10/2013 Related Story: Arrest Warrant Issued For Owasso City Manager Rodney Ray

Chambless said the supervisor who made the call to release Kelley was not doing it to protect a local politician, but because he was afraid the arrest would shine a bad light on the city. And the city had just been through some bad publicity on another matter.

"His choice was to try to save the image of the city and we've talked about that since then, talked about what the consequences might be as far as the perception of the community," Chambless said. "I don't think it was a blatant act of favoritism, I think it was a different reason, why the supervisor made that decision."

Kelley said he also doesn't believe he was treated with favoritism, because he didn't know the officer who stopped him and said he never even mentioned his position with the city. He said he'd had a few drinks and made a bad choice, and has certainly learned from that decision.

We have a crew at the Owasso City Council meeting and will report if a decision is made regarding City Manager Rodney Ray.