Officer involved shooting in Kiowa

Marvin Washington, 50, of Coweta, is pictured in this screenshot from a body cam video recorded during an officer-involved shooting in Kiowa in January. Authorities said Kiowa Officer Fred Hart fatally shot Washington after Washington reached for a gun during a struggle. No charges will be filed in the case, a prosecutor said. 

District 18 District Attorney Chuck Sullivan says he has reviewed the evidence in the case of a Kiowa police officer who fatally shot a motorist, determining no charges are warranted.

Marvin Washington, 50, of Coweta, died after he was shot by officer Fred Hart during a struggle with the Kiowa officer following a traffic stop, according to Sullivan.

Sullivan said he made his decision not to file charges after reviewing information he received from the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation. The OSBI conducted a probe of the fatal shooting.

“Upon careful review of all the evidence, the district attorney’s office has determined not to file any criminal charges against officer Fred Hart,” Sullivan said in a statement issued from his office on Tuesday.

The district attorney released a copy of the officer’s body cam video taken during the traffic stop in response to a News-Capital request made under the state Open Records Act. The released video is posted at www.mcalesternews.com.

The shooting occurred along U.S Highway 69 inside Kiowa city limits around 2:14 a.m. on January 30, 2017. Kiowa police pulled over the vehicle at a gas station and convenience store near the intersection of 69 and State Highway 63, Kiowa Assistant Police Chief Jess Wilson said at the time.

Officer Hart pulled Washington over after noting Washington was driving a vehicle 71 miles per hour in a 60 mph zone, Sullivan said in a statement regarding the results of the investigation.

“During the traffic stop, Washington made several furtive movements and kept reaching for the console,” Sullivan said in his statement. Hart obtained permission from Washington to search Washington’s vehicle, the DA continued.

“Once Washington was outside the vehicle, Officer Hart began a safety pat-down search of Washington,” the district attorney said. During the pat-down, Hart felt what he believed from his training and experience to be a gun in a front pocket of Washington’s coat, according to Sullivan.

Washington denied it was a gun and stated it was a knife, Sullivan said.

Officer Hart then requested that Washington place his hands in the air so that Hart could retrieve the weapon, Sullivan continued.

Washington refused to cooperate and began to struggle with Officer Hart, Sullivan said.

“During the struggle, Washington kept reaching into the coat where Officer Hart had felt the weapon,” Sullivan said. “At one point during the struggle, the men became separated and Officer Hart drew his duty weapon. After his weapon was drawn, Officer Hart repeatedly requested Washington show his hands and release his grip on the weapon,” Sullivan continued in the statement.

“Washington refused to obey Officer Hart’s lawful commands,” Sullivan said. “Washington again made a movement to retrieve his weapon from his coat and Officer Hart fired three times, striking Washington twice.”

A transcript of the voices on the video reads as follows:

Officer Hart: “Put your hands up.”

Washington: “I have no time to go to jail.”

Hart: “Sir, put your hands up.”

Washington: “I have no time to go to jail.”

Hart: “I am going to shoot you; put your hands up now.”

Washington: “No? Then let me go man.”

Hart: “Sir, I do not want to kill you.”

Washington: “I don’t want to kill you either; let me go.”

Hart: “Sir, put your hands up.”

Washington: “Let me go.”

Hart: “Let go of the weapon, please.”

Washington: “No, no.”

Hart: “Let go.”

Washington: “No.”

Hart: “Sir ...”

Washington: “No.”

Hart: “Quit going for the gun!”

Three gunshots can then be heard in rapid succession and Washington starts falling to the pavement of the convenience store parking lot.

After the shots were fired, Hart summoned an ambulance to the scene.

A loaded pistol was recovered from Washington’s coat pocket, Sullivan said.

Kiowa Police Chief Billy Smith said it is a tragedy that anyone had to to lose his life.

“We’re certainly glad the officer was cleared,” Smith said. “It’s been a hard time to get through.”

He noted the OSBI took over the investigation of the shooting at the request of the Kiowa Police Department.

“We wanted to make sure we had an outside agency investigate this,” Smith said.

He said he believes the OSBI investigation was thorough and that was the best way to proceed with the matter.

“The OSBI was called in immediately,” Smith said. “We are grateful they were able and willing” to conduct the investigation, he said.

Contact James Beaty by email at jbeaty@mcalesternews.com.

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