Trooper again faces an internal inquiry
BY MANNY GAMALLO World Staff Writer
Tuesday, October 06, 2009
10/06/09 at 4:28 AM
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HOLDENVILLE — A state trooper suspended in July following a scuffle with a paramedic is again the focus of an internal investigation by the Oklahoma Highway Patrol.
Trooper Daniel Martin was put on paid administrative leave after an arrest Saturday in which a Holdenville man claimed he was assaulted by troopers for no apparent reason.
Martin was suspended without pay for five days in July as a result of a widely publicized scuffle he had with a Creek Nation paramedic at Paden on May 24.
Parts of the scuffle were captured on video taken at the scene and from the dashboard camera in the trooper's car.
In addition to being suspended, Martin was ordered to undergo anger-management assessment.
In Saturday's incident, Martin was the backup officer for Trooper Tommy Allen, who was also placed on paid administrative leave over the Holdenville arrest. Holdenville is in Hughes County, about 90 miles south of Tulsa.
Capt. Chris West, spokesman for the OHP, said Monday a complaint was filed Sunday in connection with the Holdenville arrest a day earlier.
The two troopers were placed on administrative leave based on the complaint and the fact Martin was involved in another high-profile case, West said.
West, noting that the case is being investigated by the OHP's internal affairs unit, would not comment on the details, except to say that an individual was arrested for obstructing an officer at a traffic stop of another man for a stop-sign violation.
The arrested man has been identified as Kristopher Douglas, 28, who was taken by the troopers to the Hughes County Jail.
Jerry Ford, who lives in the house where the arrest occurred, said Douglas was walking to his house to help him with drywall when the troopers jumped Douglas, put him in a chokehold and hit him with a baton. He said the incident occurred in his front yard.
Ford said the motorist who allegedly ran the stop sign, Luke Carson, also was coming to his house to help him with drywall.
According to Ford, Carson pulled into his driveway about 7 p.m., and behind him were the two troopers, Allen followed by Martin.
Ford said Douglas, who was not involved in the traffic stop, was trying to get to Ford's house, but the officers kept insisting that he stand by the street.
Suddenly, Allen grabbed Douglas' arm and put him in a chokehold and Martin pulled out a retractable baton and struck him in the back, Ford said.
"I came out and asked what was going on," Ford said. "Martin comes up in a fast walk, screaming he's going to put me in jail."
"All I asked was that they take it to the street, that they were upsetting my two kids," Ford said.
Ford said he bailed Douglas out of jail about 90 minutes after the arrest. They tried to file a complaint with OHP that night, but were told they would have to wait until Monday, he said.
Ford said they contacted an Oklahoma City television station on Sunday to report the matter.
Ford said neither he nor Douglas knew the names of the troopers, but they remembered badge No. 606 and reported that to the TV reporter, who recognized it as being Martin's.
Once that story aired Sunday night, Douglas said he received a call "inside of 10 minutes" from the OHP, telling them that he could file the complaint, which he did verbally Sunday night. Ford said a written complaint will also be filed.
Ford said he was surprised to learn that Martin was the same trooper involved in the scuffle with the paramedic.
"Anyone in the United States of America would get run off his job," Ford said. "He (Martin) gets a paid vacation. I don't want to run down the police, but we sure need someone to monitor the police, but no one is above the Highway Patrol.
"It's like now, nothing would have been done had it not been for the media coverage," Ford said.
The Tulsa World has filed a formal request under the Oklahoma Open Records Act for release of the troopers' incident reports, a copy of the complaint and release of dashboard videotapes from the troopers' cars. None was released Monday.
Gary James, an Oklahoma City attorney who represents Martin, said his client will be exonerated once the tapes from Martin's dashboard camera are released.
James said he talked with Martin, who told him that Douglas tried to walk through the traffic stop several times and wouldn't heed their commands to stand by the street.
James said Douglas was arrested and the officers had to use force because they felt he was getting hostile.
"He had his teeth clenched as if he was going to do something," the attorney quoted his client as saying.
James said Douglas could be heard in the squad car saying he was sorry and should have heeded the troopers' command.
Records show that in addition to several traffic tickets, Douglas has 2004 felony drug conviction out of Oklahoma County, for which he received a nearly five-year suspended sentence.
Richard O'Carroll, a Tulsa attorney representing Douglas, backed Ford's version of the events. O'Carroll is also the attorney for Maurice White Jr., the paramedic involved in the scuffle with Martin in May.
That incident was sparked when Martin claimed the ambulance crew, which was taking a woman to the hospital, gave him an obscene finger gesture as their vehicles passed.
O'Carroll has already filed a federal lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Muskogee against the state for that incident.
Reacting to the latest case involving Martin, O'Carroll said of the Highway Patrol: "This was predictable and outrageous. They've protected, indulged and endorsed this dangerous law-enforcement officer."
Manny Gamallo 581-8386