In The Know: Oklahoma County DA charges OKC police officer with second-degree murder

In The KnowIn The Know is your daily briefing on Oklahoma policy-related news. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. Click here to subscribe to In The Know and see past editions.

Today In The News

Oklahoma County DA charges OKC police officer with second-degree murder: An Oklahoma City police officer was charged Tuesday with second-degree murder, accused of unjustly shooting a suicidal person last month. Keith Patrick Sweeney, 32, is charged in Oklahoma County District Court. District Attorney David Prater filed the charge himself Tuesday morning. Sgt. Sweeney fatally shot Dustin Pigeon, 29, early Nov. 15 after the victim called 911 threatening suicide, police reported [NewsOK]. Building trust with communities can create a safer environment for both law enforcement agencies and citizens [OK Policy].

Oklahoma opponents of federal income tax bills plan state Capitol rally: Some Oklahomans were not happy with the income tax overhaul narrowly approved by the U.S. Senate last Friday night. How many and how angry may be clearer after a 1 p.m. Saturday rally at the state Capitol. Oklahoma Sens. Jim Inhofe and James Lankford were lambasted on Twitter for voting in favor of the GOP-backed bill. Lankford, especially, became the target of stinging and sometimes profane criticism, most of which appeared to come from actual people living in Oklahoma and not bots or professional trolls [Tulsa World]. How Oklahomans would fare under the Congressional GOP tax plan [OK Policy].

House committee to hold first meeting in Dept. of Health investigation Monday: The House Special Investigation Committee plans to meet Monday to begin discussions on apparent mismanagement at the Oklahoma Department of Health. The committee will meet at 9:30 a.m. Dec. 11 with the former director of the Office of Management and Enterprise Services Preston Doerflinger, acting director of the Department of Health, Denise Northrup, acting director of the OMES, and Chris Benge, chief of staff for Governor Mary Fallin [KOKH].

The cost of denying paid sick leave: Am I too sick to work? Can I take the day off? For many Oklahomans, the answer to these questions is usually “no.” Private employers are not required to offer paid sick leave to their employees in Oklahoma. In the last legislative session two bills that would have required paid sick leave in the state were introduced — HB 1310 by Rep. Walke (D-Oklahoma City) and HB 1536 by Rep. Dunnington (D-Oklahoma City). Neither bill was even allowed a vote in their House committees, and that’s unfortunate [OK Policy].

How a Tulsa ‘failure factory’ turned around its graduation rate in three years: The first thing you notice during morning arrival outside Daniel Webster High School is the cluster of red-jacketed young adults, each holding up a sign identifying their favorite hobby. They’re members of City Year, a nonprofit partner of AmeriCorps that places college-age members in high-poverty urban schools to serve as tutors and mentors. Many of the Webster upperclassmen simply walk by, but several younger students stop and chat about a shared love of video games or binge-watching YouTube clips [Hechinger Report].

Oklahoma judge denies motion to dismiss lawsuit against opioid manufacturers: A judge has denied a motion to dismiss a lawsuit filed against pharmaceutical companies. The lawsuit, filed by Oklahoma Attorney Mike Hunter, lists several companies including Purdue Pharma. The state claims companies have made billions through their “deceptive and misleading” opioid marketing campaign, convincing doctors and consumers there is a low risk of addiction with long-term opioid use [KFOR].

After big jump in toll prices, Turnpike Authority OKs another small increase effective next month: The Oklahoma Turnpike Authority on Tuesday voted to increase tolls on average by 2.5 percent to pay for a turnpike improvement and expansion project. The increase will take effect in early January, said Tim Gatz, OTA executive director. The hike comes on the heels of a 12 percent increase in March and another planned 2.5 percent raise effective July 1, 2019 [Tulsa World].

Two file for Oklahoma City mayor: Two people filed paperwork to run to become Oklahoma City’s next mayor on the first day of filing. Republican state Sen. David Holt filed Monday for mayor of Oklahoma City. He would succeed four-term Mayor Mick Cornett, who decided not to seek re-election and is running for governor. Holt had been the only announced candidate since District 2 Oklahoma County Commissioner Brian Maughan withdrew but another candidate, Randall Smith, filed Monday, as well [NewsOK].

GOP Budgets, Statements Make Plans Clear: Costly Tax Cuts for Wealthy Now, Program Cuts Later: As we’ve explained, the tax bill that congressional Republicans are finalizing is step one of a likely two-step tax and budget agenda: enacting costly tax cuts now that are heavily skewed toward wealthy households and profitable corporations, then decrying the enlarged deficits that those tax cuts fuel — and insisting that they necessitate program cuts mainly affecting low- and middle-income families. Republican leaders have repeatedly said in recent weeks that after enacting a tax bill, they will turn to budget cuts — particularly “welfare reform,” long a code for cuts to programs that help families of limited means afford food, housing, health care, and other basic needs [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities].

ACA mandate repeal may be less popular than GOP thinks: The tax bill that just passed the Senate eliminates the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate, and the House is likely to go along when Congress writes the final version. With the tax legislation moving so quickly and the mandate lost in the maze of so many other consequential provisions, we are not likely to have much public debate about this big change in health policy. If we did, even though the mandate has never been popular, our polling shows that the public does not necessarily want to eliminate it as part of tax reform legislation, once they understand how it works and what the consequences of eliminating it might be [Axios].

Oil companies to attempt salt water contamination cleanup: Two oil companies that may be shut down by the Environmental Protection Agency will try to clean up a contaminated section of an Oklahoma creek. The Tulsa World reports that Warren American Oil Co. and Jireh Resources LLC will pump salty water out of Bird Creek in Osage County to see if fresh water takes its place. The companies say they don’t take responsibility for the contamination, which isn’t on land under their leases [AP].

Quote of the Day

“The traditional American high school is based on the premise that 15 percent of kids need extra help, 15 percent need remediation and 70 percent will do fine if you give them a good teacher. In high-needs schools, it’s like 95 percent need the additional support. We concentrate our neediest kids in a subset of schools that weren’t designed for that level of need.”

– Robert Balfanz, a research professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Education, who helped to develop a program that has increased graduation rates at a Tulsa high school from 53 percent of seniors in 2013 to 75 percent of seniors in 2016 (Source)

Number of the Day

$3.2 billion

Value of production of cattle and calves in Oklahoma in 2015

Source: USDA

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

How Washington Winks at Violent Discipline of Special Needs Kids: Kaden Perrizo was 11 years old when he entered an “orthopedic impaired” class at Taylor Elementary in Santa Clara, California. Kaden suffered an immune system disease as a toddler that left him unable to walk without leg braces or to speak more than a few words; his parents say he functions cognitively like a 4-year-old. His teacher, according to allegations set forth in a lawsuit brought by Kaden’s parents on his behalf, tied him to a chair. He was also confined in a 3-by-4-foot cell made of bookshelves [Politico].

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Ryan Gentzler worked at OK Policy from January 2016 until November 2022. He last served as the organization's Reserach Director and oversaw Open Justice Oklahoma. He began at OK Policy as an analyst focusing on criminal justice issues, including sentencing, incarceration, court fines and fees, and pretrial detention. Open Justice Oklahoma grew out of Ryan’s groundbreaking analysis of court records, which was used to inform critical policy debates. A native Nebraskan, he holds a Master of Public Administration degree from the University of Oklahoma and a BA in Institutions and Policy from William Jewell College. He served as an OK Policy Research Fellow in 2014-2015.

One thought on “In The Know: Oklahoma County DA charges OKC police officer with second-degree murder

  1. This is the case I am working on now because he was illegally approached to begin with when he was searched, but all he has is a habit & it showed. Plus, he has always been in prison & just got out & that’s where that habit formed. Now they wanna give him 15 years back in prison for that when they should help him instead. He was incarcerated 22 out of 42 years of his life & they wish to put him back in for 15 years because he was caught with a bag of dope in his pocket.

    John brewer – Prosecuter on case.
    Judge Hammond – County Judge

    The officer arrested Richard for stolen vehicle that parked in lot even though nobody seen him driving any vehicle anywhere. Of course at court they dropped that charge because of the facts & that meant they had no probable cause for his arrest. But after arresting him & searching him they found a bag of stuff in his pocket.

    Upon being searched, (technically Unlawfully), he had a sack of dope in his pocket. Supposedly officer weighed it out at 23 grams & since the officer knew Richard by the words he approached him speaking.., & obviously he had it out for him by the promise he made when he said that he was going to give him the worst charges he could get out of it.

    They continue to charge him on that bag of dope although technically it was ‘Illegal Search & Siezure’ & they have no right to keep any charge. There was no probable cause in the first place!

    At first they charged him with Trafficking all because it weighed 23 grams with the container. Even though there were not one single thing as far as scales, or baggies, or anything besides it being a personal bag.

    (Oklahoma has the second-highest incarceration rate in the country, 70 percent higher than the national average. Yet Oklahoma is not 70 percent safer than the rest of the country.

    Oklahoma continues locking up low-level nonviolent offenders as felons despite criminological research that shows that this approach is ineffective. In fact, for some offenders, including drug offenders and first-time offenders, prison actually increases the likelihood of reoffending.)

    (Under the federal sentencing guidelines, a “drug trafficking offense” as “an offense under federal, state, or local law that prohibits the manufacture, import, export, distribution, or dispensing of a controlled substance (or a counterfeit substance) or the possession of a controlled substance (or a counterfeit substance) with intent to manufacture, import, export, distribute, or dispense.” U.S.S.G. § 2L1.2(b)(1),)

    He was not transporting, or on a highway traveling. He was not making a sale & it was not hidden in a vehicle or animate object for concealing it. It was in his pocket & he was shopping at a store.

    (The federal government typically treats trafficking as trafficking, and possession as possession no matter what the amount, but they do give a little leeway for each state to come up with their own guidelines. Although the definition of trafficking is commercial dealing or over state lines.)

    So Oklahoma says that over 20 grams can be considered trafficking. But while in jail on a trafficking charge for having 23 grams of Meth in a single bag, he had 2 cell mates who were locked up for possession charges of a misdemeaner with one man carrying 25 grams of meth & he also had a few ounces of Herion with scales & bags. And the other having 28 grams of meth with other baggies.., but yet those 2 men were booked in for possession only.

    (Prison reformers seem most unhappy about what they say is a trend of upgrading charges against nonviolent offenders. With our loose definitions many can find a way around question 780. The report notes that while admissions with a controlling drug offense declined, charges for possession with intent to distribute, drug trafficking, child endangerment and second-degree burglary increased.)

    He had recently been released from prison so I was thinking that meant he had been clean. It was odd to me that he smoked as much as he did. But then I learnt it is widely common in prison & he was released having a habit like that. Guess it is more common to pick up that habit in prison than it is on the outs! And from what i understand its even easier to come across & more widely used.

    What else is there to do to pass a prison sentence of solitude by than with drugs. ?

    (So, with history indicating that the challenges leading a person to prison – such as drug addition, alcoholism, untreated mental illnesses, and a lack of employment opportunities – are actually made worse by incarceration, prison time contributes not only to further financial desperation, but also a loss of family and social ties.) We

    CASE FILING #2 (Court 12/10/2018)

    Fully 75 percent of Oklahoma’s inmates were sentenced for nonviolent offenses. These are not hardened criminals. More than half of those sentenced for nonviolent offenses have zero or one prior felony convictions, and the vast majority have no history of violent crime.

    Statistics say that most people who have been in prison; will return to prison within a few years.

    Since they’re typically has to be other factors.., at his court hearing the state of Oklahoma decided to reduce those charges from trafficking to possession, which is what it truly was.

    So at court December 10th they reduced his charge to just a possession charge but they tried to give him 15 years in prison. And despite the new law making possession a misdemeanor. They also stated that it was to be charged as a felony because he has priors.

    (Possession is also a misdemeaner even if you were recently released from prison. Max time for a possession charge is up to one year in jail. Enhanced it can be no more than twice the amount the charge carries. And if the offence dont carry a minimum prison time then it is 2 years for a subsequent offense. .)

    Oddly enough, he came out of prison with that rather large habit & he has been out over a year now, with no criminal activity, & all who know him also knows that he refuses to even grab a toolbox off someone’s porch. He stays straight &;works for his money but has a habit he obtained in prison. , & he had spent his entire adult life already in prison so far.

    And now his possession is for him a felony offering him 15 years & how long do they think people live..? Does he really need prison because he has a drug habit?

    And isn’t that a form of double jeopardy seeing as how they incarcerated all this time, in which he formed this habit because of that, (& also became schitzophrenic), & has a hard time coping to it out here as it is..!

    No wonder the stastics show once you have been in prison that you are likely to return within the first year or two.

    And regardless of ¹Mary Fallen & the fact they are trying to keep so many people from being locked away for non-violent crimes. Regardless of the fact that our prisons have the highest rate of non-violent offenders doing time & most just have possession charges. Kids without parents &; those who are there as violent offenders doing less of a prison sentence than that of a non-violent offenders… . OKLAHOMA COUNTY STILL CAME AT HIM ON December 10th & WANTED 15 years PRISON TIME.

    (These laws, all signed by the governor on April 26, 2018, go into effect in late 2018.)

    (Senate Bill 649 removes previous felony drug possession convictions as a reason that prosecutors can seek sentence enhancements. The new law also reduces sentence enhancements for recidivism in non-violent crimes. A petty larceny conviction after a prior felony conviction will be a simple misdemeanor – no longer a felony with penalties as long as five years in prison.)

    (SB 649 will reduce sentences for repeat drug offenders convicted of possession. Currently, repeat offenders receive harsher sentences because of their previous drug possession offenses. The new law eliminates those sentencing enhancements. Courts now cannot impose longer sentences on defendants because of their previous convictions for possession of controlled dangerous substances. However, people convicted of other drug crimes may still receive extra prison time for being repeat offenders.)

    Out of the many things that he could be, its not criminal activity that they are trying to give him 15 years for in prison.., but a possession charge which law states is a misdemeanor now & carries no more than a year in jail. They are trying to consider it a felony & District Attorney John Brewer came to him with another 15 years in prison.

    Richard has been out over a year now without any other charges occuring besides that recent possession. The law of possession being a misdemeanor passed 2 1/2 years ago & the law 649 passed in April but effective 1 1/2 months ago officially.

    WE refused that offer & I think Oklahoma city courts are not clued in on the new reform that has been established either.. When I went over arrests each day in the jail blotter, all it shows is that there is in increase in possession with intent & also trafficking charges, since the new laws went out.

    So what are the new guidelines for Trafficking & shouldn’t they change the term to classify those who really do traffick in illegal drugs, or are they now lowering that charge & making trafficking drugs seem like possession now.???

    Is the new drug reform going to work or is it just finding ways for people to be charged with higher crimes in order to bypass question 780? Seems to me now that more people are just charged with bigger offences than would have previously been so that the law can lock them up the same.


    ( This is how commonly people charged more with Trafficking or intent. Half of OKC are now dealers instead of addicts.

    Feb. 15th- 2 poss
    6 poss w/intent

    Feb 14th- 5 poss
    3 poss w/intent
    3 trafficking

    Feb. 13th- 4 poss

    Feb. 12th- 1 poss
    1 poss w/intent

    Feb. 11th- 2 poss
    1 poss w/intent

    Feb. 10th- No poss
    2 poss w/intent
    1 trafficking

    Feb 9th- 2 poss
    1 poss w/intent
    1 trafficking

    Feb 8th- 3 poss
    1 poss w/intent
    1 trafficking

    Feb 7th- No poss
    1 poss w/intent
    1 trafficking

    Feb 6th- 2 poss
    3 poss w/intent

    Feb 5th- 1 poss
    2 poss w/intent
    1 trafficking

    Feb 4th- 3 poss
    5 poss w/intent

    Feb 3rd- 2 poss
    2 poss w/intent

    Feb 2nd- 3 poss
    5 poss w/intent
    1 trafficking

    Feb 1st- 1 poss
    2 poss w/intent
    1 trafficking )

    Thats why I no longer have respect for the law. They are all biggits & many of them are alcoholics, but would they do that to themselves. . . ? Over a drug habit developed through their system ?????

    So his pre-trail conference is March 6th, 2019 & thats where they see what they have & if it could hold trail. So I cant wait to see what they will pull this time.

    Stacy Privett

    Sent from my Samsung Galaxy smartphone


    (The federal government typically treats trafficking as trafficking, and possession as possession no matter what the amount, but they do give a little leeway for each state to come up with their own guidelines. Although the definition of trafficking is commercial dealing or over state lines.)

    I have an Uncle who did drugs for so many years so that now that he is old & disabled, he needs drugs each day to just function normally. He gets disability & limited income one a month & lives in Eufuala which is 2 hours from Oklahoma City. So once a month he comes to OKC to buy for entire month while he at home in Eufuala. He was used to doing an 8-ball a day at least, just to function in the past, so narrowing it down to a gram per day ain’t much for him.

    My Uncle comes & buys 28 grams if he is able to, & he has to budget, gets paid once a month, & can only make trip to city once a month. He has to drive home on Highway almost 2 hours away, but he has limited income & lives outta town, & for damn sure is no drug trafficker. He does not sale drugs & he is almost 60 years old now. What he buys is strictly personal & I would be extremely upset if he went down for a charge of Trafficking & had to do 15 years in prison because he had an addiction to drugs so long that he needs them to get up in the morning each day.

    He has to budget & has to come down to the city & don’t know people in Eufuala., but 28 grams is only about a gram a day. His old habit had him having to do an 8-ball a day so this cuts him down enormously.

    Anyway you look at it still makes it just possession & the fact it’s a larger quantity is price really. It’s really cheap that way if you buy it at exactly 28 grams & no lower.. THATS JUST A FACT.. . .


    Richard Urrutia needs so much a day that it’s the iteligent choice… . He is exactly like my Uncle & used to smoking about an 8-ball in a day. And with Richard’s schitzophrenic issues then it’s the only way we have a normal day & he is out & about working everyday.. It helps him get out easily & being used to total seclusion from prison must be hard to adjust. If he don’t leave the room, then he won’t as the entire day passes. We end up with no vision outside of the room but the noices we can hear & it always becomes people surrounding us & running past to him.. Drugs are the only way for him to adjust to the outside after spending his entire life, which is 22 years, of being in a concrete 10×12 cell isolated from human contacts & silence other than himself.

    Stacy Privett

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