Charges dropped against 7 Oklahoma police officers in 3 separate fatal shootings

Jul 28, 2023, 1:05 PM | Updated: 2:20 pm

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The new prosecutor in Oklahoma’s biggest county announced Friday she’s dropping criminal charges against seven police officers in three separate fatal shootings from 2020.

District Attorney Vicki Behenna’s predecessor, David Prater, had filed the charges in all three cases before he left office, and Behenna hired a use-of-force expert to examine the evidence in each case.

“I know how highly charged the topic of law-enforcement use of force is in the current environment,” Behenna said in a statement. “It is critical to evaluate each case independently and make a decision based on facts, not emotion.”

Behenna, a Democrat from the Oklahoma City suburb of Edmond, defeated conservative Republican Kevin Calvey last year to win a four-year term as the top prosecutor in the state’s most populous county. A former federal prosecutor and defense attorney, Behenna is the first woman to hold the post in Oklahoma County.

She brought in Clarence Chapman, a retired Los Angeles County Sherriff, to determine if the shootings were justified according to state law He reviewed video from police body cameras, medical reports, witness interviews and reports from other responding agencies, Friday’s statement said.

The most high-profile case involved five Oklahoma City officers charged with first-degree manslaughter in the shooting death of 15-year-old Stavian Rodriguez. The teen was shot outside an Oklahoma City convenience store on Nov. 23, 2020, by officers responding to reports of an attempted armed robbery.

TV news video of the shooting showed the boy drop a gun then reach toward his waist line before being shot.

After being shot with the “less-lethal” round, while Rodriguez had one hand in his pocket and his other hand near his waistline, all five officers “unnecessarily fire lethal rounds at Stavian Rodriguez, striking him numerous times and inflicting mortal wounds,” Prater’s investigator, Willard Paige, wrote in an affidavit.

An autopsy determined Rodriguez suffered 13 gunshot wounds, Paige wrote.

Initially charged in the shooting were officers Bethany Sears, Jared Barton, Corey Adams, John Skuta and Brad Pemberton. All five have been on paid administrative leave since the shooting.

In another Oklahoma City case, Sgt. Clifford Holman was charged with first-degree manslaughter in the shooting death of 60-year-old Bennie Edward.

Holman had responded to a call of a man harassing customers at a business in north Oklahoma City, according to a police affidavit by homicide detective Bryn Carter. When he arrived at the scene, Holman encountered Edwards, who was holding a knife and refusing officers’ commands to drop it, the affidavit states.

The third case involved The Village officer Chance Avery, who was charged with second-degree murder in the July 2020 shooting death of Christopher Pool.

Avery was called to the home by Pool’s wife, who was retrieving personal belongings, when Pool ran inside carrying a bat and was shot by Avery after refusing to drop it, police said.

United States News

Associated Press

Virginia ex-superintendent convicted of misdemeanor in firing of teacher

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — A Virginia jury has convicted a former schools superintendent on a misdemeanor charge in connection with what prosecutors said was the retaliatory firing of a teacher who reported that an elementary school student inappropriately touched her. Former Loudoun County Public Schools Superintendent Scott Ziegler was acquitted on a separate misdemeanor count […]

24 minutes ago

Doris Peters calls voters during a phone bank event Thursday, Sept. 28, 2023, at the Republican Par...

Associated Press

Anti-abortion groups are at odds on strategies ahead of Ohio vote. It could be a preview for 2024

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Abortion opponents in Ohio are at odds not only over how to frame their opposition to a reproductive rights initiative on the state’s November ballot but also over their longer-term goals on how severely they would restrict the procedure. The disagreements, roiling the anti-abortion side just six weeks before Election Day, […]

4 hours ago

Joe Heath, general counsel for the Onondaga Nation, walks into the Nation's Longhouse for a meeting...

Associated Press

Rejected by US courts, Onondaga Nation take centuries-old land rights case to international panel

ONONDAGA NATION TERRITORY (AP) — The Onondaga Nation has protested for centuries that illegal land grabs shrank its territory from what was once thousands of square miles in upstate New York to a relatively paltry patch of land south of Syracuse. It took its case to President George Washington, to Congress and, more recently, to […]

5 hours ago

FILE - San Francisco Mayor Dianne Feinstein carries a candle as she leads an estimated 15,000 march...

Associated Press

Dianne Feinstein was at the center of a key LGBTQ+ moment. She’s being lauded as an evolving ally

Dianne Feinstein once stood at the center of a pivotal moment in LGBTQ+ history. Decades later, in death, she’s being lauded by LGBTQ+ leaders as a longtime ally who, if she didn’t always initially do the right thing, was able to learn and evolve. Feinstein was president of the San Francisco County Board of Supervisors […]

5 hours ago

FILE - Visitors tour the Supreme Court in Washington, Monday, Sept. 25, 2023. The new term of the h...

Associated Press

The Supreme Court will take up abortion and gun cases in its new term while ethics concerns swirl

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court is returning to a new term to take up some familiar topics — guns and abortion — and concerns about ethics swirling around the justices. The year also will have a heavy focus on social media and how free speech protections apply online. A big unknown is whether the […]

5 hours ago

Kyle Ellison stands in front of a fallen tree on Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2023, in Kula, Hawaii. As hig...

Associated Press

When Kula needed water to stop wildfire, it got a trickle. Many other US cities are also vulnerable

Hours before devastating fires scorched the historic town of Lahaina on Maui, Kyle Ellison labored to save his rental house in Kula, a rural mountain town 24 miles away, from a different blaze. As high winds whipped burning trees and grass, Ellison and his landlord struggled with plummeting water pressure. Ellison had to wait for […]

6 hours ago

Sponsored Articles



Importance of AC maintenance after Arizona’s excruciating heat wave

An air conditioning unit in Phoenix is vital to living a comfortable life inside, away from triple-digit heat.

Home moving relocation in Arizona 2023...

BMS Moving

Tips for making your move in Arizona easier

If you're moving to a new home in Arizona, use this to-do list to alleviate some stress and ensure a smoother transition to your new home.



At Ability360, every day is Independence Day

With 100 different programs and services, more than 1,500 non-medically based home care staff, a world-renowned Sports & Fitness Center and over 15,000 people with disabilities served annually, across all ages and demographics, Ability360 is a nationwide leader in the disability community.

Charges dropped against 7 Oklahoma police officers in 3 separate fatal shootings