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April 7, 2013

Charge dismissed for McAlester officer in tasing case

McALESTER — A felony charge has been dismissed for a McAlester police officer who had been accused of committing assault and battery with a dangerous weapon in connection with the tasing of a woman last year.

Special Judge Tim Mills dismissed the charge against McAlester police officer Sterling Taylor, charged as Sterling Lee Taylor-Santino, following a preliminary hearing Monday at the Pittsburg County Courthouse in McAlester.

Mills sustained a demurrer by Taylor’s attorney, ruling that there wasn’t enough evidence to order the officer over for trial following the preliminary hearing.

Following the judge’s ruling, District 17 Assistant District Attorney Johnny Loard announced in court his intention to appeal Mills’ ruling.

Taylor was accused of committing assault and battery with a dangerous weapon by using a taser on Nakina Williams while she was being booked into the Pittsburg County jail following her arrest by McAlester police on a public intoxication complaint June 24, 2012.

After District 18 District Attorney Farley Ward’s office recused from handling the matter, it was assigned to District 17 District Attorney Mark Matloff’s office, where it was handled by Loard.

Both Matloff and Loard said Monday afternoon they wanted to confer before reaching a final decision on whether to appeal the ruling. If it is appealed, the matter would not go to the state Court of Criminal Appeals, but rather would go to a district judge for review on whether the decision should be upheld.

It had been necessary to announce the intent to appeal in open court, in order to preserve that right, according to Matloff.

Loard called six witnesses during the Monday preliminary hearing.

They included Pittsburg County Sheriff’s Office jailers Aaron Duff, Jeffrey Daniels and Leann Drake, and McAlester police officer Charles Rogers, all of whom testified about what they saw and heard that night.

Rogers, the officer who originally arrested Williams for public intoxication on a McAlester street, testified Williams wasn’t acting very nice that night.

Williams herself testified that she was too intoxicated to remember what happened, but testified she had viewed a sheriff’s video of the tasing incident and that was indeed her in the video, Loard said.

Neither Taylor, nor his attorneys, Susan Knight and Stacey Felkner, could be reached for comment as this article was being prepared for publication.

Contact James Beaty at jbeaty@mcalesternews.com.

For more on this story, see the print or electronic editions of the McAlester News-Capital. Click here for print edition home delivery or click here to see the Smart Edition for your computer, tablet, e-reader or smart phone.

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