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Crime-and-courts
Alleged drunken driver crashes into police car in north Tulsa; officer treated for injuries

A Tulsa police officer was treated for injuries Monday morning after an alleged drunken driver crashed into his patrol car.

The officer was driving east on 46th Street North from Peoria Avenue searching for a cow reported to be in the road about 2:10 a.m., and a car traveling much faster rear-ended his patrol car near Yorktown Avenue, according to a police news release.

Both cars continued a “significant distance” east from the force of the impact before coming to rest off the road, the release states.

The officer complained of soreness in his neck, and the other driver involved, later identified as Demetria Thompson, initially refused to identify herself, the release states. Other officers said Thompson had several containers of alcoholic beverages in her car and a strong odor of intoxicants on her person, according to the release.

Emergency responders treated both drivers at the scene but recommended they be taken to a hospital for further treatment.

The officer was treated and released.

Once she was medically cleared, Thompson was booked into the Tulsa County jail on complaints of DUI injury accident, transporting an open container and various traffic offenses.

She posted bond for release on Monday afternoon.


Local
Gov. Kevin Stitt gives himself an 'A' for first year

Kevin Stitt began his tenure as governor one year ago Tuesday full of energy and ambition.

Nothing yet has taken the wind out of his sails.

“I’d give myself an ‘A’ at this point,” Stitt said in a telephone interview last week. “We can always do better, but I’m really proud of what our team has accomplished.”

Stitt and his administration did have a pretty good run of successes in its first year. On this occasion, Stitt mentioned teacher pay, roads and bridges, and government transparency, but he could also have listed government reorganization and criminal justice reform.

For gun rights advocates, there was the permitless carry bill, the first Stitt signed as governor. And he was able to carry through with his determination to hold back, above and beyond the state’s constitutional reserve fund, $200 million available for appropriation.

But few victories are total or without reservation.

A lot of toes were mashed in the stampede to give Stitt more administrative power than any Oklahoma governor has ever had.

Even more were mashed when he decided in mid-year to take on the state’s Indian tribes over gaming — a move he says he does not regret in the least.

Permitless carry was and is bitterly opposed by a significant segment of the population. Some saw the teacher pay raise as more of a figurative photo op than real reform of education funding.

And the nonrecommendations issued last week by Stitt’s task force on criminal justice reform suggest to some that he’s ready to declare victory on that issue and move on.

Stitt, though, is judging results by a broader measure.

“I really feel like we’ve changed the momentum and the direction and the attitude and the outlook in Oklahoma,” he said. “The things we’re doing, the communications, the working with the state agencies, bringing them together for leadership training, it’s just been going great as we’re digging in and setting a vision and goals for them to become top 10 in whatever they’re working on.”

In Stitt’s view, the state’s frame of mind seems to be of utmost importance.

“Oklahomans elected me to look at things differently,” he said, “to bring a fresh approach, a business approach, to state government, and not to recycle the same-old same-old. To do that I had to bring in a lot of new faces, new leaders, people with fresh ideas. That’s what we’re doing. And you see it working.

“Not that I’m 100% right or anything like that, but you have to have one single strategy,” he said. “You’ve got to have somebody who can pull it all together. … That’s why I really focused on getting the structure right.”

Just months in office, Stitt persuaded legislative leaders to give him direct control of five of the largest state agencies — the Health Care Authority, Corrections, Human Services, Juvenile Affairs, and Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.

Stitt replaced three of those five agency heads and the leadership in a total of 18 state agencies. State Chancellor Glen Johnson agreed to retire at the end of this year following a very public campaign by Stitt to pressure him out.

Stitt said gaining even greater control over state agencies is one of his priorities for the coming year. He’s made it clear he intends to exert influence on the selection of Johnson’s successor and says he’d like the state superintendent of public instruction to become an appointed rather than elected official.

“Making the change inside the agencies is really hard,” he said. “They’re used to doing things a certain way. … Sometimes you have to talk to boards and commissions and explain to them that we’re not moving the needle in this agency they’re overseeing so we’ve got to change the direction or the director.”

Stitt’s first year was made easier by the easing of a financial crisis that had afflicted state government for years. His second budget is expected to be much tighter as revenue to the state slows.

Stitt, though, does not seem too concerned about maintaining momentum as he heads into his second year.

“A lot of agency accountability and delivery of services is more management,” he said. “I’m not overly concerned about not being able to keep up with some of my agenda items. The criminal justice stuff is more looking at the criminal code and bail reform and sentencing reform all together.”

Stitt said the administration is still “kind of fine tuning” plans for 2020 but said “health care is going to be a big topic that I’m going to be working on. More regulatory reform. I’m really excited about some of the things we’re doing on the regulatory side. And we’ll continue to have agency accountability language that we’ll be promoting this year.”

Gallery: Breaking down Stitt’s first year in office

Gallery: Breaking down a memorable first year in office for Governor Kevin Stitt

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Crime-and-courts
Man faces murder charge after shooting of his ex's new boyfriend, who died 3 weeks later

A man injured in an east Tulsa shooting in December succumbed to his injuries on Sunday.

Jannai Simien, 31, was shot in the torso late Dec. 23 outside a home in the 10700 block of East 29th Street and hospitalized until Jan. 12, according to a Tulsa police news release.

Jermaine Lashawn Cooper, 33, was arrested Jan. 7 and booked into the Tulsa County jail on charges of shooting with intent to kill and possession of a firearm after a former felony conviction.

Detectives say his charges were amended to first-degree murder.

Cooper, who also spells his name as Germaine Lashaun in court records, is accused of shooting Simien, his ex-girlfriend’s new boyfriend, in an altercation that arose when he went to check on the woman.

There was a warrant for his arrest for about a week after he was initially charged on New Year’s Eve. He remained in the Tulsa County jail Monday in lieu of a $1 million bond.

Simien’s death is Tulsa’s third homicide of the year.