A rancher and hunting guide who was accused in 2017 of assaulting two Tulsa police officers who were searching his pasture for car thieves is suing the city of Tulsa, claiming that the officers used excessive force in detaining him.
In court documents filed this week, attorneys for Jack Morris, who was 53 at the time of the altercation, wrote that he suffered a “beatdown” at the hands of three officers that left him with a cut above his eye that required stitches, a fractured left elbow, two orbital bone fractures and two fractures to his nose.
Named in the suit are Officers Brian Dupler, Anthony First and Kurt Dodd; the city of Tulsa; and Tulsa Police Chief Chuck Jordan.
On the morning of Aug. 16, 2017, police surrounded a field owned by Morris near 49th Street and Harvard Avenue while searching for one of two people who reportedly had fled from a stolen vehicle nearby.
In an interview with the Tulsa World at the time, Morris, who was a weekly contributor to the Tulsa World’s Outdoors page, said he drove to the field to try to calm one of his horses, which was startled by the commotion. He said he told officers when they stopped him from entering his field that he was “just trying to save his horse,” the World reported previously.
An officer wrote in Morris’ arrest report that despite numerous commands to stop, he continued to try to get to the barn while yelling expletives at officers. When he was told that he was subject to arrest, he reportedly balled his fists and began yelling.
Morris said an officer eventually brought him to the ground and repeatedly hit him. Officers then reportedly pepper-sprayed him.
Photos of Morris soon after the altercation show him bloodied and swollen. The department eventually released dash cam videos from the day of his arrest. In the videos, two of the officers involved mentioned the possibility that Morris would file a civil suit against them.
Morris did not immediately return a phone message Thursday. A city spokeswoman said the city does not comment on pending litigation.
Brett Swab, one of Morris’ attorneys, said he believes the outcome of the lawsuit will show that Morris was subjected to excessive force.
“The use of force, specifically on behalf of Officer (Brian) Dupler, was unreasonable and unnecessary, and I think (Morris) just feels like he needs to take a stand on that,” Swab said.
“There are a lot of good police officers,” Swab said. “Unfortunately, this is an example of someone that, in our opinion, didn’t act accordingly.”
A judge eventually dropped a felony charge of assault and battery on a police officer against Morris following a request by the Tulsa County District Attorney’s Office. Morris pleaded guilty last October to two misdemeanor counts and was handed a 90-day deferred sentence and ordered to participate in counseling.
A $175,000 tort claim on Morris’ behalf was denied by the city in May. The lawsuit asks for $75,000 in compensatory damages, $75,000 in punitive damages and attorney fees.