Tahlequah police on Friday released video and other documents related to the fatal shooting of a 32-year-old man earlier in the week.
Tahlequah officers shot Bobby Lee Vaughn on Monday afternoon at his ex-wife’s house after he raised a handgun toward officers, according to police.
Officers had arrived at the house at 902 S. State Ave. after receiving a 911 call from his ex-wife, who claimed Vaughn had pointed a gun at her.
Tahlequah Police Chief Nate King said during a press conference Friday at the Tahlequah Police Department that he was at the scene of the shooting shortly after the 911 call was made and prior to officers firing at Vaughn.
Officers tried every means possible to end the brief standoff peacefully, King said.
“Between that and the body-camera footage, I’m proud to be these guys’ boss,” King said. “I think they acted courageously. They maintained their poise and patience in a situation that was very tense.”
About 10 minutes prior to the fatal shooting, officers had sought cover by their police vehicles after Vaughn had fired a handgun one time while officers, standing near the front door of the residence, attempted to talk to him while he was inside his residence.
In body-camera video footage released Friday, a firearm could be heard being fired one time as officers stood just outside the front door of the residence, but Vaughn was not visible. King said the bullet Vaughn shot has not been found.
After retreating to their vehicles for cover, officers could be heard asking Vaughn, sometimes begging him, to come out peacefully.
King said Vaughn came to the front door at one point.
Vaughn was not visible on the videos provided to media, nor did he appear to open the outer storm door.
King said three officers fired their weapons after Vaughn raised the gun toward officers.
King said officers were not sure if Vaughn had been hit by all five shots fired — four from police handguns and one shot from an officer’s AR-15 rifle.
When officers shot at Vaughn, most of the videos provided by police displayed the side of the patrol car they were crouching behind as the cameras were mounted on their chests.
After approximately two hours without any contact with Vaughn, with help from the Cherokee Nation Marshal Service, police fired multiple rounds of teargas into the residence.
After still not hearing from Vaughn, officers opted to enter the residence, King said.
Just inside the front door, officers found Vaughn unresponsive, King said. He was pronounced dead at the scene by emergency responders, he said.
The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation is investigating the officers’ use of deadly force, King said.
The findings by the agency will be forwarded to the local District Attorney’s Office.
The officers, Detective Chris Boals, Patrolman William Jacob Robertson and Patrolman Bronson McNiel, have been placed on administrative leave pending the OSBI investigation and other administrative protocols, King said.
This is the third time in four years that Tahlequah police officers have been involved in the fatal shooting of a civilian, according to a Tulsa World database of fatal officer-involved shootings.
Three Tahlequah officers were involved in the fatal shooting of Dominic Rollice, 49, on Aug. 12, 2016.
Rollice was fatally shot by officers after lunging at them with a hammer in the garage of his ex-wife’s home.
About 14 months earlier, a Tahlequah officer fatally shot Joshua P. Crittenden, 35, on June 27, 2015.
The District Attorney’s Office later cleared officers in both shootings in 2015 and 2016.
King said he was unsure as to why his small department has had three recent fatal shootings.
“I don’t think it’s something in the water in Tahlequah,” King said.
In the most recent case, King said officers “backed out as far as they could without putting other citizens in danger.”
“We couldn’t go any further back, or we would have,” King said. “And we couldn’t just pack up and leave after a man shot a gun.
“We try to end every encounter without violence, whether it be deadly force or whether it be physical force, but sometimes it’s necessary in this line of work that we have to match force with force.”