Death Investigation

The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation is investigating the death of a man who was involved in an altercation with Wagoner County deputies on Monday.

Sheriff Chris Elliott said around 9:54 p.m. Monday, a motorist close to the intersection of State Highway 51 and U.S. Highway 69 was spotted driving recklessly, doing donuts in the roadway. A deputy initiated a traffic stop and the driver pulled over into the center turn lane approximately 3/4 of a mile west of the intersection.

The sheriff said when the deputy approached the vehicle, the driver would not follow the officer's commands.

"The deputy drew a weapon and the suspect reached out and grabbed it. There was a struggle over the gun and the deputy recovered it," Elliott said. "A second deputy arrived, and when they got the suspect out of the car, a fight started, lasting approximately 4-5 minutes before they got him in handcuffs. That's an eternity to be fighting someone."

One of the deputies called for backup, but authorities were caught behind a train passing through town.

"During the middle of the fight, a deputy deployed a taser on the suspect. At some point, he called for an ambulance, and the first people to arrive on scene was EMS within four minutes of the traffic stop," the sheriff noted.

Elliott said when the suspect was taken into custody and in the recovery position, deputies thought he was having trouble breathing. EMS personnel on scene checked him out.

"He had either quit breathing or trouble breathing at the scene, and they took him to the hospital where he died," the sheriff said.

The suspect has not yet been positively identified.

"He had a Colorado ID on him, but when hospital personnel compared the photo on the ID at the hospital with the suspect, it was not conclusive that it was the same person," Sheriff Elliott noted "We are waiting on the medical examiner to do a positive identification on him."

OSBI crime scene investigators were on the scene late Monday night. The sheriff said he is waiting for their report as well as the pathology report on the suspect.

"Anything anyone says right now is nothing but conjecture and speculation. We just don't know," Elliott said. "He did have some kind of injury to the back of the head because he was bleeding, but we are not sure what that injury was. It could have been pre-existing, we just don't know."

The sheriff said both deputies involved in the case have been placed on paid administrative leave until the investigation is complete. Elliott added there is no evidence at this time that there was a firearm discharged by either deputy.

Christy has been covering news and sports in Wagoner County since 1988. She is a graduate of Oklahoma State University with a degree in Public Relations/Journalism.