The Rogers County sheriff denies allegations of wrongdoing in a new court filing in a marijuana advocate’s lawsuit against the sheriff, who forcibly removed him from a public forum about State Question 788 in June.
Sheriff Scott Walton, through documents filed by his lawyer in federal court, denied Charles “Chip” Paul’s allegations that the sheriff assaulted Paul when he removed Paul from the meeting.
“All actions taken by (Walton) with respect to (Paul) were objectively reasonable,” the filing states.
On June 18, Walton removed Paul, co-founder and chairman of Oklahomans for Health, from a public forum about medical marijuana at the Claremore Conference Center. Paul has said he and his wife arrived at the forum late and found seats in the back.
Paul expressed frustration with some of the information being presented. At that point, Paul said, Walton confronted him, and Paul said he would remain quiet.
During this confrontation, Walton grabbed Paul by the neck and escorted him from the building. Video of the altercation shows Walton leading Paul out of the facility with both hands around his neck. As Paul is directed through a set of double doors, it appears that his forehead is pushed into one of them.
The following morning, Walton rebutted Paul’s version of the events. He said a large group of SQ 788 supporters were rowdy and “disruptive to the speakers.” Walton alleged on Wednesday that Paul was obstructing the meeting.
Paul’s lawsuit, filed in state court and subsequently transferred to federal court, alleges that Walton assaulted him. The suit further alleges that Walton used his official capacity as sheriff to suppress Paul’s speech, retaliate against him and seize him. Paul further alleges that Walton, who was named in the suit individually and in his official capacity, subjected him to an “unreasonable seizure” and retaliated against him for “exercising his rights of free speech, association and assembly.”
Walton’s filing states that he is entitled to qualified immunity and that Paul has “failed to state a claim for which relief may be granted” and “failed to allege a cognizable claim” under any state or federal law.
Walton further states in the filing that Paul has “failed to exhaust all administrative remedies.”
Paul is seeking a judgment in excess of $75,000.