By Jessica Bruha
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — Cleveland County District Attorney Greg Mashburn announced Thursday that Oklahoma Highway Patrol Trooper Joe Kimmons was cleared after shooting a juvenile Sept. 22 following a road rage incident along Interstate 35 in Cleveland County.
A letter was sent clearing the trooper Thursday morning, detailing reasons why Mashburn said he felt the trooper should be cleared.
“I feel the trooper’s actions were justified and warranted and reasonable in this incident,” he said.
It was learned that Kimmons shot the teen after seeing the juvenile attempt to grab the gun of a game warden he was struggling with. The game warden, Chad Strang, was there to assist with the call near Southbound I-35 and Tecumseh Road.
When Strang saw Kimmons and the teen begin to fight, he ran to help restrain the teen. At that point, they struggled and ended up in the ditch, Mashburn said.
“At that point in time, the subject actually ended up on top of game warden, Strang, on top of his back, with his left hand on his left side and his right hand reaching for officer Strang’s weapon,” he said.
When Strang realized what was happening and felt the tugging on his belt, he rolled over to keep the weapon from being pulled from his holster.
“He felt the subject’s hands on the pistol; he tried to secure his pistol,” Mashburn said.
When Kimmons saw this, he pulled away and ordered the teen to comply, warning that he would use deadly force. The teen told the trooper to shoot him as he continued to grab for Strang’s gun.
At that point, Mashburn said Kimmons had no choice but to use deadly force to prevent the teen from shooting either Strang or him.
“Trooper Kimmons noticed that the game warden was not wearing his vest that day, and so if that weapon had cleared that holster and turned, it would be potentially fatal,” Mashburn said.
The subject remained combative after he was shot, as well. At one point, the subject told someone trying to treat him that they “couldn’t handle me by myself,” and continued to struggle all throughout the treatment, up until they got him to the hospital, Mashburn said.
During and after the altercation, all of the subjects were yelling racial slurs at the officers. Even after one subject was shot, the racial slurs continued, Mashburn said.
The dashcam in the patrol car shows the stop, and while the altercation occurred to the right of the vehicle away from view, audio recorded the teens yelling profanities and racial slurs at the officers.
The racial slurs are relevant in this case because the subject was claiming there was some kind of racial motivation behind the officer’s actions, reports indicate.
The teens were stopped by the trooper after they were involved in a road rage incident where they allegedly kicked, punched and threw objects at another woman’s car they had bumped or collided with, he said. The initial incident occurred near I-35 and Fourth Street in Moore.
When the teens attacked her vehicle, she called 911. Mashburn said one of the kids stood in front of her vehicle “smashing his hands” in a fist, punching his palm motion while he yelled at her and told her to get out of the car.
“There’s actually footprints on her car and dents on her car,” he said about the teens kicking and punching the woman’s vehicle. “One tried to pick up some kind of debris off the roadway, and she pulled back to get away.”
After Kimmons made contact with the teens following the incident, the driver told him a different story and became agitated when the trooper said the female was going to come meet them, Mashburn said.
When the female arrived and told her side of the story, Kimmons attempted to take the driver into investigative detention, placed one handcuff on the teen, and the teen began to assault him, the district attorney said.
All three teens may face charges, but Mashburn said since they are juveniles, he was not at liberty to discuss that information.