Two Tulsa police officers acquitted in corruption case fired
BY ZIVA BRANSTETTER World Enterprise Editor and OMER GILLHAM World Staff Writer
Friday, January 20, 2012
1/20/12 at 5:43 PM
Grand jury investigates police corruption: Read all of the stories, view a timeline and read key documents.
View the release here.
Two Tulsa police officers acquitted following a police corruption trial in June have been fired.
The Tulsa Police Department announced that Bruce Bonham and Nick DeBruin were terminated Friday. The department cites “duty to know, enforce and obey laws” and “conduct unbecoming of an officer” in its news release.
Bonham and DeBruin were also terminated for violating the department’s policy on “duty to be truthful and obedient.”
Police Chief Chuck Jordan said: “My administration as well as the rank and file of the Tulsa Police Department have never nor will they ever tolerate any illegal, unethical or immoral behavior. We have taken steps to ensure more oversight including more checks and balances to preclude such behavior. It is our goal to enhance the trust and confidence of the citizens we are sworn to protect.”
Even though the officers were acquitted, the Tulsa Police Department assessed the officers’ behavior based on departmental policies and professional standards, the release states.
The police trial, May 31 through June 10, involved allegations that DeBruin, Bonham and a third officer, Cpl. Harold R. Wells, stole money during an FBI sting May 18, 2009 and planted drugs on people to gain convictions.
DeBruin and Bonham denied the allegations when they took the stand to defend themselves in federal court. Wells did not testify during the trial, which was held in U.S. District Court in Tulsa.
DeBruin was indicted on six counts and Bonham on five. Meanwhile, Wells was convicted and sentenced to 10 years.
During Wells’ sentencing in December, U.S. District Judge Bruce Black said he did not agree with Wells being the only officer convicted during the trial.
Surveillance video from the FBI sting showed DeBruin and Bonham handling or pocketing money. However, DeBruin and Bonham told the jury they were collecting the money for a drug dog to sniff. No drug dog was present at the scene.
The officers were acquitted while Wells was convicted.
Bonham was hired in 1990 while DeBruin was hired in 1999. Since the trial’s conclusion, the two have been on administrative leave with pay pending the outcome of an internal affairs investigation. Both were patrol officers.
During a second trial in the police corruption case in August, Officer Jeff Henderson was convicted on eight counts of perjury and civil rights violations while Officer Bill Yelton was acquitted. Henderson received 42 months in prison and has been transferred to a federal facility in Yankton, S.D.
Yelton remains on suspension with pay pending the outcome of an internal affairs investigation.
First Assistant U.S. Attorney Jane Duke, of the Eastern District of Arkansas, prosecuted the case.
In total, 11 law enforcement officers were named in court documents as having some role in the corruption case.
Two were convicted, two pled guilty and two were fired. Two other officers admitted illegal conduct. Three officers were named as unindicted co-conspirators.
Read more in Saturday's Tulsa World.
From left: Former Tulsa police officers Nick DeBruin, Bruce Bonham, who were acquitted following a police corruption trial in June. Tulsa World File