WAGONER — The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation is examining the death of a man who died after an altercation with Wagoner County deputies on Monday.
Sheriff Chris Elliott said that around 9:54 p.m. Monday, a motorist close to the intersection of Oklahoma 51 and U.S. 69 was spotted driving recklessly, doing donuts in the roadway. A deputy initiated a traffic stop, and the driver pulled into the center turn lane approximately three-quarters of a mile west of the intersection.
The sheriff said that when the deputy approached the vehicle, the driver would not follow the deputy’s commands.
“The deputy drew a weapon, and the suspect reached out and grabbed it. There was a struggle over the gun, and the deputy recovered it,” Elliott said. “A second deputy arrived, and when they got the suspect out of the car, a fight started, lasting approximately four to five minutes before they got him in handcuffs. That’s an eternity to be fighting someone.”
One of the deputies called for additional backup, but other authorities were caught behind a train passing through Wagoner.
“During the middle of the fight, a deputy deployed a Taser on the suspect. At some point, he called for an ambulance, and the first people to arrive on scene were EMS within four minutes of the traffic stop,” the sheriff said.
When the man was taken into custody, deputies thought he was having trouble breathing, Elliott said. EMS personnel checked him out at the scene.
“He had either quit breathing or trouble breathing at the scene, and they took him to the hospital, where he died,” the sheriff said.
The man has not yet been identified.
“He had a Colorado ID on him, but when hospital personnel compared the photo on the ID at the hospital with the suspect, it was not conclusive that it was the same person,” Elliott said. “We are waiting on the medical examiner to do a positive identification on him.”
OSBI crime scene investigators were at the scene late Monday. The sheriff said he is waiting for their report as well as a pathology report on the man.
“Anything anyone says right now is nothing but conjecture and speculation. We just don’t know,” Elliott said. “He did have some kind of injury to the back of the head because he was bleeding, but we are not sure what that injury was. It could have been preexisting; we just don’t know.”
The sheriff said both deputies involved have been placed on paid administrative leave until the investigation is complete.
There is no evidence at this time that a firearm was discharged by either deputy, Elliott said.
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