Sheriff Scott Walton Sued In Federal Court For Brutality
Chip Paul was awarded an undisclosed sum of money as part of a federal lawsuit settlement, last week. Mr. Paul is not divulging any details, he was in Tulsa last night at a town hall meeting he moderated, with state lawmakers.
In addition, the legal expenses incurred by Rogers County is going to lead voters to ask if Sheriff Walton needs to have anger management therapy, as a condition of future service to the county. The civil suit initiated in state district court and documents put the number "in excess of the $75,000" limits for certain procedural options. The case was moved to federal court, in July.
Let's recount the events by looking at the legal documents which stipulate the facts in the lawsuit.
8. Plaintiff attended the meeting. Plaintiff was quietly sitting in the back of the audience and people in attendance were asking questions and Plaintiff raised his hands to speak several times to be called on. Plaintiff was ignored and commented privately to his wife a few times that some of the information being relayed was inaccurate but was in no way disrupting the forum.
9. Plaintiff turned to make a comment to a Deputy located behind him, but when he turned Walton got in Plaintiff's face yelling at him to be quiet or get out. Plaintiff stated that he would be quiet, at which time Walton grabbed Plaintiff's throat and neck, forcibly removing him from the Claremore Event Center. Plaintiff all the while indicated he would leave peacefully.
Walton slammed plaintiff's head into the door as he was physically removing him. Walton placed both his hands on the back of Plaintiff's neck and utilized a tactical maneuver reserved for subduing individuals in a dangerous condition. This includes both his thumbs being placed at the bottom of each side of Plaintiff's neck. Part of the incident was captured on video. See: https://oklahoman.com/article/5598620/video-medical-marijuana-advocate-forcefully-removed-from-public-forum-by-rogers-county-sheriff.
10. Plaintiff engaged in protected conduct by his involvement with SQ 788, including his freedom of speech, association and assembly. However, defendant engaged in unlawful time, place and manner restriction aimed solely at suppressing plaintiff and supporters of SQ 788 from engaging in the political process and such conduct is tantamount to prior restraint. This was an egregious abuse of Walton's power and authority as Sheriff of Rogers County.
11. Walton's conduct was aptly described by the ACLU, which in a press release has stated: The violent actions of the Rogers County Sheriff signal a disturbing reliance on government force to silence political speech. Law enforcement must use force only under the most serious and threatening circumstances, a standard that Mr. Paul's behavior did not come close to meeting on Monday night. The Rogers County Sheriff is not a stranger to using his taxpayer funded office to wage a private war against SQ 788, but with the unwarranted, violent removal of Mr. Paul from a public forum, the Sheriff's actions have become criminal.
It is clear that Sheriff Walton believes that medical cannabis will disrupt his business model of arresting patients and seizing their cash and property; in fact, he has a history of using his government office and public funds in questionable ways to protect his bottom line. However, his political fear mongering escalated to dangerous and criminal levels last night when he and his deputies departed from their civic duty and unleashed their rage on an invited member of the public. Sheriff Walton's criminal act is also a serious violation of the United States and Oklahoma Constitutions. Failure to take appropriate action against the Rogers County Sheriff would send a clear message that authoritarian government actors in Rogers County are above the law and unaccountable to the citizens they ostensibly serve." http://www.newson6.com/story/38464191/açlu-reacts-to-action-by-rogers co-sheriff-at-state-question-788-forum.
Sheriff Walton then let Mr. Paul leave the premises. Mrs. Paul immediately attended to him and feared he may have suffered a life-threatening concussion. Fortunately, Mr. Paul recovered and joined activist the following week and election watch parties.
The following night, Tulsa County D.A., Steve Kunzweiler, said he expected a grand jury to look into criminal charges against the sheriff, just based on the video he'd seen. we asked if Kunzweiler if he'd likely lead that grand jury. Kunzweiler said that's unlikely, given Kunzweiler's past public criticisms of Walton. But Kunzweiler also said that the Rogers County D.A. would also have to be recused, because of his legal duties to represent the county officials.
Video footage on KOTV News On 6 shows Walton stopping at the auditorium doors, then swiftly smacking Mr. Paul's head into the latched door, and pulling his head back, in a hammering action, rather than a steady push, which Walton might have been able to explain as an innocent belief that the door was not latched at all. Mr Paul was completely compliant, not using his own hands in any way that Walton might have decided to interpret as hostility warranting lethal force.
When the outer glass doors of the foyer were approached a few seconds later, Mr Paul Did use his own hands preemptively, to avoid worse danger to his brain.
Walton told media outlets that he was motivated by a sense of impotence, on his part. He says the supporters of SQ788 were all over the room. He says the audience reaction signaled that the panelists speaking against SQ788 were not viewed with credibility, because of some broadly debunked statements they insisted on proliferating.
Walton decided to act on his own volition, rather than in response to a citizen complaint. this was not a legitimate police action because there was no citizen complaint, nor a witnessed statutory crime in progress.
KFAQ Radio's Pat Campbell later commented on Sheriff Walton. Campbell said he told Walton something to the effect of "You're too tightly wound up for this kind of scenario."