Tulsa Police Investigation Sparked By Home Search

Tuesday, July 27th 1999, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

The News on Six has obtained the 911 tapes of a police search last week in Tulsa. That search has generated a complaint and an internal police investigation. Lucille and Ellis Jones are upset that police officers ordered them from their home at gunpoint last week. The officers say they were trying to protect the Joneses, not harass them.

The following is are transcript excerpts of the actual 911 tapes from Tulsa Police Dispatch.

Police officer: "I've got one running northbound on Peoria."

It all started when police officers pulled over a car and a man with a gun took off running through a neighborhood.

Officer: "He's behind a house by the tree line. This guy is armed. With an automatic pistol. He's going into the house, he's busted down a door or a window."

Police say the officer believed the man had broken into Lucille and Ellis Jones' home, so, the dispatcher called the Jones' and told them to go outside. But, when they did, officers yelled at them to go back inside because the helicopter thought it spotted the suspect in the driveway.

Officer: "There's a hot spot by the truck or bush. I can't tell if it's a dog or a person, by the fence line."

The dispatcher called the Jones' back and said it was safe to go back outside.

Dispatcher: "Stay inside, we want to make sure you're safe."
Mrs Jones: "What's going on?"
Dispatcher: "We thought a man broke into your house."
Mrs. Jones: "Nobody broke into our house. We're Christian people."
Dispatcher: "We wanted you to stay inside for your own safety."
Mrs Jones: "We are so embarrassed, to be yelled out in front of our neighbors, in our nightclothes, to be treated like a suspect."
Dispatcher: "You're not a suspect. We are trying to take care of your safety. We're concerned for your well-being."

Another complaint made by State Representative Don Ross, is this happened to the Joneses because they are black and live in north Tulsa. But, The News on Six found a similar situation, which happened to a prominent white family in South Tulsa just four days earlier. Someone had called 911 about a gun at the home. The police called inside the home and made the family come out their hands up. Although they didn't want to go on camera, they did say it was embarrassing and a bit scary. But, they certainly didn't feel targeted.

The police department is looking into how well officers communicated with the Jones' and if the tactic was best. "The other tactic is to go to the front door. The telephone approach may not be safest. Although it seems if they're being held hostage and we go to the front door, we've acerbated the situation, not calmed it," said Police Chief Ron Palmer. The internal affairs investigation should be finished by next week.

The Joneses have said they want an apology. The sergeant at the scene and a sergeant in the chief's office both apologized for the inconvenience of the Joneses being pulled from their homes. Chief Palmer says he's sorry for that too, but believes it was done for the right reasons. The News on Six was unable to reach Lucille and Ellis Jones Wednesday for comment.