Several police officers at Tulsa County District Judge Sharon Holmes’ residence after she was stabbed expressed concerns about her daughter’s account of events.
But newly released body camera footage reveals that despite their suspicions, Tulsa police officers made no attempt to arrest or detain the judge’s daughter, Adrienne Smith, that night in a possible violation of internal policy regarding domestic violence investigations.
Police on Tuesday released more than 10 clips of audio and video from some of the officers present March 2 at Holmes’ north Tulsa home. Before paramedics took Holmes to a hospital, body camera footage captured Officer Jason Angel telling other officers that Smith ought to be interviewed, and he questioned whether he should read her the Miranda rights.
Police have confirmed the existence of an internal investigation related to the initial handling of the matter. On Wednesday, Police Chief Chuck Jordan refused to comment on whether officers should have made an arrest at the scene pursuant to the department’s domestic violence policy or any other formal TPD procedure.
“We’re looking at the incident,” Jordan said. “We’re not looking at any one person. We have no target.”
TPD policy regarding domestic violence cases states that a misdemeanor arrest may be made without a warrant if officers observe a recent physical injury to the reported victim or if they have probable cause to believe an act occurred within the preceding 72 hours. It does not require officers to personally see an assault take place.
Sgt. Marcus Harper, a longtime officer and a Major Crimes Unit supervisor, was identified in an incident report the Tulsa World obtained March 7 as the supervisor who instructed that the stabbing be classified as accidental.
Harper’s wife, Tulsa City Councilor Vanessa Hall-Harper, has claimed that putting her husband’s name in the report is a wrongful smear on his reputation by other officers and possibly the Fraternal Order of Police over the couple’s support for the creation of an Office of the Independent Monitor. The FOP denied that allegation, as has Jordan.
The video shows Harper, out of uniform and off duty, arriving at the scene and speaking with officers in front of Holmes’ home. Angel mutes his body camera as soon as he began talking to Harper outside the house.
After Harper went inside, a female officer standing at the kitchen crime scene with Officer Scott Scepanski motions for him to turn off his body camera as Harper approaches.
Jordan said Smith’s verbal consent to search the house did not meet the threshold to be considered an enforcement action. He told the World that officers “could have turned the whole thing off” if they wanted to while they spoke among themselves.
The department’s body camera policy considers domestic violence investigations and searches, either by consent or pursuant to a search warrant, to be enforcement actions.
“We’ll look at it,” Jordan said of the matter. “But from what I’ve seen so far, it’s probably well within the officers’ rights to do that.”
But the incident was not immediately considered a domestic violence investigation despite multiple officers’ suspicions about how Holmes was injured.
An internal memo written by Cpl. Jason Muse, the supervisor the night of the incident, said officers found Holmes lying on her kitchen floor in a pool of blood and said police believed the stabbing was “accidental and self-inflicted.”
Muse can be seen in the footage discussing potential classifications with Scepanski, the primary reporting officer, after the two talked with Smith and she offered an explanation of what occurred.
Scepanski can be heard in the video asking Muse whether he recorded the discussion with Smith, to which Muse responds, “For that? Oh, no, no, no.” Muse later says, “Well, we’ll have to see whether it’s self-inflicted,” and he recommends to Scepanski that they “wait for the doctors to say” more about it.
“Once we get those two pieced together,” Muse continues, but he is interrupted by Scepanski, who says, “Cause with it being a district judge, we’ll know you want to do a self-inflicted,” in a possible reference to a specialized written report.
“We’ll find out,” Muse replied. “We’ll find out what they say at the hospital. We’ll get something from here, and we’ll let them give us guidance on how to tie that in.”
Smith was arrested a week later and charged with assault and battery with a dangerous weapon on an allegation that she stabbed her mother. The arrest occurred two days after police confirmed that the matter was a domestic violence investigation.
Smith had told officers Holmes fell on the knife, but a search warrant affidavit filed Friday indicates that she told detectives after her arrest that she was excessively intoxicated and “blacked out.” She denied having stabbed her mother but acknowledged that they verbally argued.
Smith remains in the Tulsa County jail in lieu of $10,000 bond and has a court date set for April 4.
Tulsa Police Department rules and regulations say officers shall not “effect any personal arrests” or conduct investigations in their own matters or those of their family or friends. It also says off-duty officers are not authorized to take police action except in situations where human life is in immediate danger or “as otherwise authorized by the policies and procedures” of TPD.
Holmes had been transported to a hospital before Harper arrived at her house. While Harper is shown speaking to Smith in at least one body camera video, he is not heard giving directives to any officer about how the situation should be handled.
Video footage captures Harper attempting to help Smith talk to other officers.
“Calm down. Nobody’s blaming you for anything,” Harper can be heard saying. “The officers are just trying to figure out what’s going on. … Nobody’s treating you like a suspect. I just want you to calm down.”
Later in the footage, Harper can be heard raising his voice with Smith when she says of other officers: “They can take me to jail right now.”
“Listen to me. We don’t know what happened,” Harper says. “Stop making assumptions.”
Another detective returns and asks Muse whether any other family members are available to stay with Smith, to which Muse answers, “When I asked her about family, she said Marcus.”
Editor's note: Check back at tulsaworld.com Thursday for an edited video of the body camera footage provided by police.