Ex-Okla. sheriff's spokesman says he was wrongfully fired

Spokesperson said he was wrongfully terminated following fatal shooting of unarmed man by volunteer deputy

By Justin Juozapavicius
Associated Press

TULSA, Okla. — A former spokesman for an Oklahoma sheriff's office said Tuesday he was wrongfully fired following the fatal shooting of an unarmed man by a volunteer deputy and that he is "looking forward" to testifying before a grand jury investigating allegations of wrongdoing in the agency.

Shannon Clark, formerly a major with the Tulsa County Sheriff's Office, said in a statement that he was a loyal employee who "always encouraged sheriff (Stanley Glanz) to do the right thing."

"I was unexpectedly wrongfully terminated in an apparent effort to insinuate that I was somehow to blame for some of the things that happened at the sheriff's office," Clark said in the statement.

Clark's attorney, Eric Stall, said Clark could testify before the grand jury either later this week or next. Terry Simonson, a spokesman for the sheriff's department, didn't immediately return a message seeking comment on Clark's statement Tuesday.

The grand jury is investigating whether Glanz neglected his duties and whether reserve deputies who gave gifts to the agency were given special treatment. Jurors meet in private and witnesses subpoenaed to testify are forbidden by the court from discussing their testimony.

"I'm looking forward to my opportunity to visit with the grand jury," Clark said in his statement. Glanz has said he isn't afraid to testify.

Clark was among several high-ranking sheriff's department employees who were fired or demoted after reserve deputy Robert Bates fatally shot Eric Harris on April 2. Bates, who has pleaded not guilty to second-degree manslaughter, says he confused his stun gun and handgun. Bates faces a jury trial in February and has resigned from the agency.

Bates is a close friend of Glanz's, has donated thousands of dollars in cash, cars and equipment to the agency and was the sheriff's' campaign manager in 2012.

After the shooting, Clark denied the existence of a 2009 internal memo highlighting Bates' lack of training. The memo was later released by an attorney for Harris' family.

Meanwhile, grand jurors were expected to spend much of Tuesday touring the county jail to gather evidence and could hear testimony Wednesday.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press

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