Broken Arrow officer's attorney speaks to FOX23 exclusively

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Reported by: Sharon Phillips
Updated: 11/15/2013 11:20 pm Published: 11/15/2013 10:14 pm

This is a FOX23 exclusive story.

For the first time, an attorney for the seven Broken Arrow police officers is speaking out about the accusations the officers now face.

Officers are accused of tampering with their weapons without permission from their police chief.

FOX23 brought you this story Thursday. We told you about how the officers placed flashlights on their guns.

Now their attorney says this is a misunderstanding and he hopes it will be resolved quietly.

The whole issue surrounds a flashlight that is mounted to the officer's gun. Through the Fraternal Order of Police, attorney Scott Wood says he was contacted about representing the seven officers in question.

The issue came up after a supervisor noticed an officer using a weapon-mounted flashlights.

The department says although the lights are not specifically prohibited in the department's policy, messing with weapons is not at the discretion of the officer.

Wood says there's a simple explanation to what appears to just be a misunderstanding.

"There was a meeting sometime in the past where these officers were told that the chief did not like gun lights and that he'd prefer that they not use them."

But he says the officers did not perceive this as a direct order and went out and purchased the gun lights.

He said even senior officers in the department use them, so the seven involved didn't think there was anything wrong with it.

"That may be the source of the misunderstanding. I think he believed that he had given an order and I don't think my clients perceived it that way," he said.
He said the officers in question never meant to cause any trouble.

"I don't think anyone had any intent to directly disobey an order from the chief, but at the same time if the chief intended to issue and order I think he would expect the people that he gave it to follow it," he said.

Wood will sit down Monday with the city attorney and the chief of police to hash this out.

Following Monday's meeting, Wood tells FOX23 something needs to change.

"On a going forward basis policy probably needs to be rewritten or tweaked in regards to carrying a gun light and when it can be used," he said.

I asked him if this type of internal investigation could hinder any type of future promotion for the officers.

"It could if it results in discipline. Anytime there is an internal affairs investigation, they're very thorough and complete and once a complaint comes back that is unfounded or not substantiated that really does not go against your record," Wood said.

FOX23 reached out to the Broken Arrow Police Department for comment but they couldn't make one because it's an ongoing investigation that is all they could.

No disciplinary action has been taken by the department against the officers.

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Mayor Maynot - 11/18/2013 7:10 AM
1 Vote
If weapon mounted lights are allowed to 90 % of BAPD officers then I can understand how the five officers indicated in this report feel like its acceptable for them to be just like the rest of their comrads. If it's not allowed for five then it should NOT be allowed for ANY strictly because of what might appear to be an issue of what is fair.

Unwashed Mass - 11/17/2013 12:42 PM
1 Vote
The video in the story clearly shows the officer fiddling with the gun-mounted light to get it to work. In a stress situation, what's to prevent that fiddling from becoming an accidental discharge? They happen, and they are preventable by not allowing gun-mounted lights. You have to stop and ask, which is the officer's priority, protecting the citizens or themselves? If they choose the later, they chose the wrong profession.

Bluesteel - 11/17/2013 11:05 AM
1 Vote
Unwashed Mass, I fail to recognize the correlation between your example and the issue at hand. You are correct, multitasking an officers hands in a critical incident or high stress encounter should be avoided. The weapon mounted light eliminates this problem by freeing up a hand. Without a weapon mounted light an officer must hold their flashlight (not weapon light) in their off gun hand. This could create precisely the error you point out with your example. BAPD officers are trained from day one to never physically engage a person with their firearm drawn. In other words if an officer is moving to grab a person or handcuff a person it is never done with a firearm in hand. Tasers are required to be carried on the off gun side for a reason. If a firearm is drawn the officer's hands should never be tasked with holding other weapons or equipment. That is of course with the exception of the flashlight if you are one of the unfortunate officers not issued a weapon mounted light for your light ready pistol. Please do not assume this is Hollywood or the latest episode of COPS. This is a well trained department, depriving weapons mounted lights is no different than depriving of any other equipment. You state these lights are a safety concern but you fail to back your statement. I respectfully disagree with you.

Unwashed Mass - 11/17/2013 10:05 AM
1 Vote
Nevertheless, departments rarely admit to accidental shootings, and weapon-mounted flashlights are big contributors to accidents that occur in the heat of the moment. Remember the Cal. cop who shot a handcuffed man in the back thinking he was using his taser?

Bluesteel - 11/16/2013 8:13 PM
1 Vote
There seems to be great confusion amongs readers. I'm a veteran BAPD officer. Ninety percent of BAPD officers utilize weapon mounted lights as do other law enforcement agencies at all levels. BAPD officers were issued weapon mounted lights up to 2011. The officers now in the hot seat were the first not to be issued lights however they were issued the department standard Glock 22 which IS equipped with an integrated light rail. furthermore they were issued the department standard AR-15 Patrol rifle which WAS equipped with a weapon mounted light. Just to clarify the department issued a rifle with a light and a pistol which is equipped for a light. As you read in the article there is no policy against weapons mounted lights. To clarify the issue of pointing a firearm to illuminate something or someone; this is ludicrous. Officers are issued standard flashlights carried on their duty belts. This is the light used to illuminate persons or areas as needed on patrol. The weapons mounted light is only utilized if the firearm has been drawn. At this point the light serves to illuminate whatever the officer is pointing his / her firearm at. This frees up the off gun hand to open doors or address a number of other issues which may arise. There are no rogues in this story just a group of tenacious young officers desiring to utilize all the equipment afforded to the rest of the department.

Unwashed Mass - 11/16/2013 10:16 AM
2 Votes
The fact these rogues got an attorney also speaks volumes.

Unwashed Mass - 11/16/2013 10:14 AM
2 Votes
Flashlights on guns means you are pointing a deadly weapon at anybody you are pointing a flashlight at, and is an unwarranted escalation in the use of force. ...but more to the point, it results in people being accidentally shot... Which in turn, forces the shooter to make up a reason to have shot them, since there arent any "accidental shootings" by police. The policy against gun-mounted lights should be enforced because it saves citizen's lives.
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