WAGONER — A 25-year-old man was fatally shot by a Wagoner police officer after ramming his cruiser during a pursuit and making a “threatening move” early Tuesday, according to the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation.
Wagoner Police Chief Bob Haley said an officer shot Andrew Henson, 25, during a confrontation following the pursuit shortly after midnight. Henson, who had a felony burglary warrant in Mississippi, was pronounced dead at the scene.
Henson’s friends and family trickled to a makeshift memorial at the corner of Southwest 13th Street and Polk Avenue throughout the day Tuesday to see the spot where he died just after midnight. A note reading “Andrew Henson, I love you” was tucked into the arms of a pink and orange stuffed animal. Red, white and blue flowers matched a miniature United States flag placed to the right of a gold angel, a stuffed tiger and white prayer hands.
Brandon Hampton said he saw Henson about an hour before he died.
“I was asking about his kids, and he said he had to go home and check on them to see if they’re doing good,” Hampton said as he grieved his friend at the spot he was shot. “It’s hard to lose someone like that who’s so special to your heart.”
Others at the memorial prayed, cried and expressed their disbelief that Henson is gone, leaving behind his girlfriend and two small children. Several of those who visited, including his family, questioned the circumstances that led to the shooting.
According to an OSBI news release, a Wagoner County Sheriff’s deputy pulled over Henson’s SUV for a traffic violation. When the deputy approached the vehicle, Henson drove away from the scene.
The deputy pursued the vehicle through Wagoner city limits. At one point, the release states, the driver tried to run the deputy off the road, resulting in the deputy firing several rounds at his vehicle. The driver was not struck by any of those shots.
The chase moved into the county and later back into city limits, and Wagoner police were called in to assist. The pursuit ended near Southwest 13th Street and Polk Avenue, where Henson allegedly rammed an officer’s cruiser. OSBI said Henson then exited his vehicle and made a “threatening move” toward the officer, who fired his weapon several times, killing him.
Haley said Wagoner police requested OSBI’s assistance in investigating the fatal shooting. The officer who fired the shots was placed on paid administrative leave.
OSBI stated the officer’s name will not be released because he is the subject of an investigation. Agents are gathering evidence and information to present to the District Attorney’s Office, which will determine whether the shooting was justified.
Haley said he did not know whether Henson, who had been living in Wagoner with family, was armed.
Family members of Henson’s, who visited the memorial but didn’t want to be identified, said he would have celebrated his 26th birthday on June 28 and had recently purchased a mobile home for him and his family. They described him as “one of those kind of people” who would help anyone who asked for it.
Hampton said Henson was not the kind of person who would attack police and questioned why the officer didn’t first try to tackle him or use a Taser to subdue him.
“He’s the type of person you feel comfortable with. You could just talk to him about anything,” he said. “I knew him before he moved here, and I still can’t believe that he’s gone. He was the kind of person you could depend on.”
Wagoner County Assistant District Attorney Jack Thorp said the OSBI has collected video footage from the officer’s body camera, but that it won’t be released until the OSBI’s investigative report is complete. The officer’s patrol car did not have a dash cam, according to a police employee.