By Julianna Parker
Transcript Staff Writer
NOBLE — All three officers involved in the accidental shooting death of a 5-year-old boy were fired late last week for “just cause,” the city manager said Tuesday.
“Late last week I did issue termination letters to those officers involved in the shooting,” City Manager Bob Wade said.
Wade said they were terminated for “just cause,” but would not say exactly what that meant or release the city’s investigation documents.
“Obviously it’s based on a full investigation of the events and their (the officers’) comments,” he said.
The three were fired because of their actions or inactions when they responded to an animal control call that led to one officer shooting at a snake in a birdhouse. A bullet from the gun struck and killed 5-year-old Austin Haley, who was fishing at a pond with family members.
Brad Rogers, 34, and Shawn Richardson, 29, were charged with second-degree manslaughter last month.
Rogers, who had been at the Noble Police Department about a month, reportedly fired the gun. Richardson was the supervising officer at the scene.
The other officer at the scene was Michele Key. She responded to the animal control call first and then called the other two officers for backup, according to court documents submitted in the manslaughter charge.
She was not charged with anything, but was fired by the city along with the other two officers.
“Based on the investigation, on her actions and inactions on that night and her record as a police officer here,” the city decided to fire her, Wade said.
The officers were given a chance to respond to the investigation at individual hearings last week, Wade said.
The letters of termination were mailed last Friday, but Wade refused to reveal the terminations until Tuesday so the officers could be notified first, he said.
Ben Daves, the Noble police chief at the time, recommended all three be terminated, Wade said. Daves was fired Friday, as well.
An interim chief was appointed immediately. Keith Springstead, a recently retired assistant chief from the Chickasha Police Department.
“I was more than willing, since I wasn’t doing anything else, to come and try to help out,” he said.
Rogers and Richardson turned themselves in last month and were released the same day on a personal recognizance bond. Their preliminary hearing conferences will be Oct. 23.
Jack Haley, the father of Austin, said he thinks the firings were necessary because of the “gross negligence” displayed in the shooting.
“There could have been so much more done that night,” he said.
A fourth officer, Bobby Brent Sirpless, was placed on administrative leave last month after he was charged with driving under the influence.
The police department is conducting an internal investigation into that matter, as well, and will be done probably sometime this week, Wade said.
The Noble Police Department is down to only six acting officers, including the interim chief, Springstead said Tuesday.
Springstead said the department’s number one priority is hiring more officers.
The change of leadership shouldn’t slow down the process at all, he said.
He went ahead and continued with a job offer Daves had made, even pushing up the hiring date for an officer hired this week.
The officer is not certified yet, and won’t be an active officer for several months, Springstead said.
The Cleveland County Sheriff’s Department is still assisting Noble to patrol the area, he said.
“They’ve been very gracious in helping out the town during the crisis here,” Springstead said.
By Julianna Parker
- Local news
Candidates for council wards turn out for forum
The Norman Chamber of Commerce candidate forum Monday night was the public’s first official introduction to the current field of Norman City Council candidates. Wards 2, 4, 6 and 8 are up for re-election this year. Council member Chad ...
Purcell-Lexington bridge opening pushed to at least mid-June
OKLAHOMA CITY — Drivers hoping the State Highway 77/39 bridge over the Canadian River between Lexington and Purcell will be open at the end of this month will have to wait until at least mid-June because additional cracks have been found, ...
Blanchard plans St. Patrick’s Day parade
A St. Patrick’s Day parade will be at 4:30 p.m. Saturday in downtown Blanchard. The parade will feature the Oscar Meyer Wienermobile, along with Oklahoma Scottish Pipe & Drum Corp, Chickasha’s Percussion Corp, carriages driven by ...
Police searching for two male suspects
Two Norman banks were robbed Monday afternoon, with witnesses giving similar descriptions of the suspects at both locations, according to the Norman Police Department. MidFirst Bank, 630 W. Main St. in Norman, was robbed around 12:30 p.m. ...
Art historian’s lecture visualizes Civil War
Images of boats serenely floating in the great Pacific quickly changed to dark storm clouds expressing fear, turmoil and conflict as John Wilmerding, American art professor at Princeton University, flipped through a slide show during his ...
Third-graders could win exemptions from read-or-fail law
If Florida’s use of a read-or-fail law for third-graders is any indication, many Oklahoma third graders who fail the state’s reading exam in April will win exemptions and advance to fourth grade....
School board supports education rally
The Norman Public Schools Board of Education passed a resolution instructing Superintendent Dr. Joe Siano to support participation in an education rally at a regular school board meeting Monday night....
The following people were charged with felony counts in the Cleveland County Court Clerk’s Office: · Brendan Tyler Marler, 20, knowingly concealing stolen property, obstructing an officer · Misty Daw Ballard, 32, possession ...
Police responded to the following incidents on Sunday: · 12:53 a.m. assault report, 300 block of Vicksburg Circle · 3:24 a.m. stolen vehicle, 1200 block of West Lindsey Street · 4:14 a.m. burglary in progress, 1100 ...
Rotary International president honored
OKLAHOMA CITY — State legislators, many of them Rotarians in their home districts, came together Monday to honor Norman resident Ron Burton, the current president of the 1.2 million member Rotary International president. A joint ...
- More Local news Headlines
- Candidates for council wards turn out for forum